I do believe most of us are not driving the car we had ten to fifteen years ago. At some point we got a better one or maybe even a new one. For some reason it is easier to upgrade into a better car than it is for us to grow in our faith. In fact, most Christians have not made any major changes in their faith since confirmation. It seems as though once we have become a member of a church, we no longer have to come into a new understanding of our faith.
Tradition has us celebrating Ascension Day as forty days after Easter. Ascension Day is the time when Christians celebrate Christ’s ascension into heaven. This would mean that heaven is somewhere up in the sky. But in the gospel of Matthew chapter 13, Jesus speaks about the kingdom in heaven in several parables. The good news is about living out the kingdom of heaven here on earth. Heaven is not just that place up there in the sky.
According to tradition, fifty days after Easter we celebrate Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles in Jerusalem. This particular time line is found in the first and second chapters of Acts.
But this time line does not agree with the Gospel of John which places the cross or death of Christ, his resurrection, ascension and Pentecost within three days of each other, (John 20:1-31). The point being is that the Christ is right here with us enabling us to proclaim the kingdom of heaven, helping others see what the kingdom looks like, and to bring healing and peace to one another.
After Jesus asked Peter three times “Do you love me,” in the 21st chapter of John, Jesus said to Peter, “Come, and follow me,” meaning that the ministry of Jesus is now the ministry we all as Christians are being called to do. Being a Christian is more than just becoming a member of a church. All Christians are being called into new understanding of our ministry in Christ Jesus.
Rev. Russ Brandt, Author