“I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2)
In the verses just before the Gospel we will read this week, John highlights the connection between the Resurrection we have celebrated over the past few weeks and the Ascension, which the Western Church celebrates this coming Thursday, May 30th. Once Jesus has passed through death and into his glory with the Father, he beckons us to join him. Ascension Day is often quickly passed over between the events of Easter and the powerful coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, but we would to well to linger and wait for the Spirit Jesus will send to help us keep his word. Once we reach the fires of Pentecost, we will have new work to do and new energy to do it. Perhaps this is why Luke divides his account of the work of Jesus at the Ascension. He finishes his gospel narrative by mentioning it and begins the narrative of Acts with a description of the disciples watching Jesus ascend.
The Ascension is the hinge between the present world and the heavenly glory, and the time surrounding it in the church year is the breathing space before the Spirit rushes in like a mighty wind to move us forward in Christ’s mission of love and justice. This coming Thursday, I hope you’ll read the Ascension story as written on the insert in this week’s bulletin, and pray the collect for the Ascension with the whole Western Church as we look toward heaven and the place of participation in God’s life that is prepared for us.