Sermon: Ascension Day, 2008

In the name of the +Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Watching and waiting. That is what all this is about.

Before John the Baptist, the people of God were watching and waiting, looking for the Anointed One who would free them from their oppressors, looking for a kingdom in which they would rule. They watched and waited so diligently that many missed it, when in the corner of their eye, in a backwater part of the country, God stepped down into this realm and became enfleshed.

Watching and waiting. While John the Baptist was in prison, he sent messengers to ask Jesus, “Are you the one we are waiting for? Are you the one we are watching for?” Jesus asked back, “What are you looking for? Do the blind see? Do the lame walk? Were you looking for wholeness?”

Even after Jesus died, the disciples were watching and waiting. Jesus had risen from the dead, eaten fish with them, walked with them up to Mount Olivet. Jesus had continued to teach them from the law, the psalms, and the prophets. Suddenly he was lifted up and carried away on the clouds. Going back to glory! Hallelujah! And those who were with him watched the sky.
They waited and they watched. They watched and they waited. Until the angels asked them, “What are you doing? Why are you gazing into space?” The question still resounds.

Why are we gazing into space? Waiting and watching! Jesus taught us. Jesus showed us. Jesus promised to fill us with his Spirit, and through that grace, give us the power to do greater things than he did. And indeed, in only a week and a bit, the Holy Spirit comes and continues to be present so that we might do all things through the Christ who strengthens us.

He is, to be quite certain, coming back. But whilst we watach and wait, we cannot sit on our hands and bide our time. There is work to be done. Our waiting must include kingdom building, creating a realm where there are no oppressors, where there is abundance for the poor, and healing and wholeness for all the children of God.

While we wait and watch and attend on God, let us look for signs of God’s love and grace in the world and share the good news; and where there is little sign of that love and grace and good news, let us be the instruments of making that happen.

…and whilst we watch and wait, be not afraid, for Christ is present here, at this very altar, and he has been watching and waiting to welcome us.