Why Are You Looking Up? Reflections on Luke 24:44-53

(Hymn of Promise, Natalie Sleeth, 1996)

At the highest point of the Mount of Olives, one of the sites claimed to be the place of the ascension, now stands the Augusta Victoria Hospital, administered by the Lutheran World Federation. The hospital staff serve Palestinians who are living in the midst of the occupied territories. They are experts in, among other things, radiation therapy and pediatric kidney dialysis. A late 19th-century mosaic on a high wall of the hospital chapel depicts the ascension, with Jesus ascending into the clouds, flanked by the two angels in white. What is notable about this particular depiction is that the angels' eyes gaze not upon the ascending Jesus, but are clearly directed toward the congregation—as if to ask, "Why are you standing looking up to heaven?" Don't just stand there, do something!

It seems, from reading Luke's gospel account, that the congregation "got it," for they "returned to Jerusalem with great joy," knowing that the best of the Jesus story, the very worldly part, was yet to come. Again, Beckett's final line resonates: "…you must go on, I can't go on, I'll go on."

In the end is our beginning…something God alone can see.

5/23/2014 4:00:00 AM