“[They] were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.” – Acts 1:14
Before Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit upon his gathered church, he ascended to the right hand of the Father. With the Ascension, the Incarnation is completed as Jesus bears his humanity into the fullness of God’s presence and power.
I’m struck by the apostles’ response to Jesus’ ascension. They stood “gazing up toward heaven” (Acts 1:10) until two angelic messengers reminded them that Jesus would return “In the same way” that they saw him ascend (v.11). Instead of continuing to gaze up to heaven, the apostles went back to Jerusalem to pray.
The Ascension reminds us that in this time between Jesus’ first and second coming, we’re not to stand gazing up to heaven, lost in a kind of frozen waiting; we’re to pray. The apostles went back to Jerusalem. They gathered in an upper room. And they prayed. Their prayer was furthered by the coming of the Holy Spirit in power in Acts 2. Even in the deepening of God’s presence among them, they continued to be a people marked by fervent prayer (Acts 2:42).Through prayer, some smidgen of our humanity joins Jesus in his Ascension. We’re “hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). On this Ascension Day, remember that we’re not called to gaze up at the heavens, trying to calculate when Christ will return. We’re called to pray the Ascension, joining Christ in God’s presence.