There are times when the future seems foggy. Jesus’ disciples would have felt that way as they meet him in Galilee. They didn’t know what came next after his resurrection. Jesus tells them their mission-to make disciples of all nations through baptism and teaching his words. This was no easy job. But with his command comes the promise of his power and his presence. This is the work of the Triune God: Jesus’ grace, God the Father’s love, the community created by the Holy Spirit. This is our hope and strength as God grows his kingdom in and through us.
Extraordinary. This is the tagline Concordia College uses in promoting the school in the community. This word sums up the aspirations that all parents have for their children, and perhaps we have for ourselves. But of course, our lives are more defined by ordinary routines, tasks and events. And that’s OK, because that’s we find God in our lives and world. On Pentecost Day, we thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit, who does extraordinary things in the lives of ordinary people like us-giving us a relationship with him through baptism, connecting us with the saving work of his Son through his word and Jesus’ holy meal, and granting his grace gifts. We believe in an extraordinary God changing ordinary people with his love, power and grace-real grace, real life, real community through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus is the victor "Jesus left them and was taken up." "He is exalted, the king is exalted on high", we sing 'Crown him with many crowns." For everyone who has gone away there are always those left behind looking at an empty sky - abandoned - deserted. The unbelievable thing is that the disciples returned to Jerusalem with great joy. For it is not that Christ was deserting them; Christ was inserting them into the world as his ongoing presence. They are to be the presence of Christ, his body, his ears and hands, heart and mouth and feet. And the story continues for all those left behind - you and me being lively expressions of all that Jesus was about. So the last words are "Come on, guys, Jesus is gone now - time to get to work!" We have a mission to fulfill, and we can't let our heads get stuck in the clouds. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
We live in a world of apparently limitless choices, in streaming services, shopping and even spirituality. Christianity is just one option among many. This is the way it was for the first Christians. How did they respond? Not by retreating but by engaging. This is what we see as Paul visits Athens, and talks with the city’s famous philosophers. He shares the reason for the hope he has. Some people want to know more; others don’t. The task of the church today is not to shrink in to a holy huddle, but share the story of Jesus wherever we can. The results are in God’s hands, through the Holy Spirit.