Faith is a marvelous gift. Living out our faith means facing the inheocrent challenges that come with placing our trust in a God that we cannot see. This is one of the reasons the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord is so important. The Ascension is celebrated as a day of great glory, the day Jesus returned to his Father in the presence of his disciples and in the company of angels. Even so, the actual day of Jesus’ ascension was probably a very sad day for the disciples. From that day forward, it would not be possible for them to experience Jesus’ physical presence. They would no longer hear his voice, be comforted by his embraces, warmed by his smiles or enjoy his laughter. The rest of their lives would be lived following the Lord they could no longer see.
Reflecting on how the apostles lived after the Ascension can teach us something about how to live our lives of faith in God that we cannot see. The disciples lived with trust that the Holy Spirit was with them. Even though they could not see the Lord, they knew he was with them through the Holy Spirit. We have that same Spirit within us. Like the disciples, we do well to daily call upon that Spirit to guide us, console us and inspire us.
The disciples lived with courage. They had a deep sense that Jesus trusted them to be his presence in the world. As daunting as that may be, it can also be a source of great inspiration to remember that everyday Jesus trusts us to be his presence in the world. The disciples faced many hardships. They were thrown out of temples, put in jails, physically attacked and even put to death. They were not intimidated by these experiences. They drew courage from the Holy Spirit dwelling within them. Faced with our own life’s circumstances that can tempt us to give up, that same Spirit is with us, filling us with the courage of the disciples.
After the Ascension, the disciples clearly lived with the conviction that Jesus would bless their efforts. Even though they could not always see the evidence, they carried within them an abiding sense that God was with them in their labors. Their example invites us to do the same.
Together in faith,
Very Rev. Christopher Smith, Rector