The Day of Ascension is one of the lesser known observances (unless you are Mennonite, evidently*), but it is a pretty amazing day. Let me tell you about it.
As you may recall, God instituted the 50 Day Countdown after Passover to lead up to one of the main feasts where the Jews were to head to Jerusalem and celebrate. So, after Jesus rose from the dead on Easter, He and the disciples would presumably have been counting the 50 days to Pentecost. He spent 39 days with them, teaching them, reassuring them, encouraging them. It must have been an amazing time! But then on Day 40, it came to an end. Abruptly.
He gave them a couple last commands and promises, and then ascended out of sight. Poof. Gone. Again.
The main command was to stay, and wait.
So they stayed.
So they waited.
And waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited. For 10 long days they prayed and waited.
If you are like me, it is difficult to stay focused (more on focus another day) on prayer for 10 minutes, let alone 10 days. I don’t know if they necessarily prayed continuously for that whole time, but you get the impression that they were there together, praying and waiting for Jesus’ promise. Waiting for the Spirit. Waiting for power.
It makes me wonder – why didn’t Jesus ascend on Day 49? In our world of instantly-on iPads, of microwaves and one click checkouts, it is hard to fathom the time delay that this represented. They had to wait. But they waited expectantly!
I think that a good thing to ponder on the Day of Ascension is Expectant Waiting. How well do I wait for God’s Power? Do I persevere in prayer for as long as it takes? How expectant am I?
And let’s not forget the second half of his promise – He is coming back the same way He left. Am I ready for Him to reappear in just the same way as He disappeared? It may still be a wait, but the time is coming! Let’s be waiting expectantly!
*Rest of the story: we were in a Mennonite grocery store on Monday, Memorial Day. (I mean, weren’t you?) I noticed a little sign on the door that said “Closed Thursday – Day of Ascension.” It struck me as interesting that they were open on Memorial Day but closed on Ascension Day. After thinking about it though, most retail stores are open on Memorial Day, so it wasn’t necessarily because they lacked patriotism. But it still struck me that they would close for the Day of Ascension, and so it obviously must be an important day for them. There is quite a bit that we can learn from the Mennonites!