This weekend is Saturday the 31st of May and Sunday the 1st of June, the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord.

The choir of Westminster Cathedral sing Ascendit Deus by Peter Phillps.  A setting of a verse from Psalm 47, “God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet. Alleluia!”

Over the past couple of weeks, we have heard a number of passages which focus on the instructions and teachings Jesus gave to his disciples at the Last Supper, as well as passages about the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  In this coming week, we look forward to the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  This will be a period of great joy and anticipation, but first, try and catch some sense of that joy and anticipation in the feelings of the disciples as they witness the Ascension of Jesus in this weekend’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles.

The time between Jesus’ Resurrection and the Ascension was a time when Jesus, as the author of the Acts of the Apostles tells us, ‘presented himself alive to [the apostles] by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over the course of forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.’  What has your experience been over the past forty days since Easter Sunday?  In what ways did Jesus present himself alive to you?

‘While staying with [his apostles], [Jesus] ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father.’  Hearing these words, ‘wait … for the promise of the Father’, what feelings do they invoke in you?  What promise is Jesus talking about?

As you listen to the reading again notice the anxiety in the apostles.  They have been waiting, but now it is like they cannot wait anymore.  They want answers.  Notice the feelings that arise in your heart as you hear Jesus’ answer.

 Jesus tells his apostles that they will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon them, and then he gives them a mission:  ‘you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judaea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’  Then Jesus is taken up to heaven.  Are you moved to carry out this mission?  Or are you still standing looking up to heaven?

Speak to Jesus now, as one speaks to a friend, and express openly to him how you feel.  Perhaps ask also for whatever you need to be his witness in our world today.