Bless God’s People
David R. Brock, Spiritual Formation Team
While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God. -Luke 24:51-53
How would Luke have described the ascension of Jesus in light of current understandings of the vast and ancient cosmos? How in our day do we interpret the phrase, “he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven”? On this seventh Sunday of Easter, Ascension Sunday 2021, what truths about God and creation dare we not miss in Luke’s words penned long ago?
The Rev. Terrance Klein says we shouldn’t view the ascension as “a galactic journey,” but that in the ascension, Christ became present to us in a different way: “Christ has carried our humanity into God. This means that we matter, that what happens to the least of us matters.”
On Ascension Sunday we celebrate what God “set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:9b-10).
The blessing of ascension is surrounded by several other promises and acts of blessing. The command to “stay here in the city until you’ve been clothed with power” (Luke 24:49) is followed by a two-mile trek from Jerusalem to Bethany, where Jesus raises his hands to bless his disciples. During the blessing he withdraws and departs from them. Rather than grieve or mourn his departure, however, the disciples return to the city blessed with joy-great joy! In that hope and joy, they spend time in the temple “blessing God.”
Evangelists in Community of Christ spend a lot of time considering words and acts of “blessing.” Our priesthood identity is shaped by the phrase, “Blessed to be a blessing.” We grapple with and hope to help others explore questions about blessing: What is a blessing? How does God bless us-and you, specifically? How can we then bless God’s people? And, what does it mean for us to “bless God”?
Receive God’s blessing today. Yes, you. Receive. Today. Bless one specific person with a word, deed, or both. Today. Bless another living being-a plant, an animal. Today. Bless God in your congregation. In nature. In your city, town, or farm. Today. Bless the cosmic Christ who really doesn’t ascend or descend but pervades all.
“Attention is the beginning of devotion” (Mary Oliver).
Engaging in the practice of holy attention allows us to suspend our inner conversations and agendas and give reverent and receptive focus to a specific person or portion of God’s creation. Regarding another as an unrepeatable miracle whose life journey is unique and sacred brings awareness to and affirmation of God’s presence in all creation. We do this in the spirit of Christ who saw into the deep hearts of people and recognized their true identities as God’s beloved. Spend time this day in prayerful attention to God’s creation, to the people in your life, and to your daily surroundings.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.