Rev. Chris Snow
North Hill Christian Church
May 24, 2020
If I were to do a time study on the amount of time that I spend waiting, before taking action on various projects, I would care to guess that amount of time would be alarming but not all too surprising. We spend a good deal of time waiting on others to take care of their part of a project or responsibility. I find myself waiting on responses to emails, waiting to get an essential widget for a project, waiting on access, waiting on a slow computer, waiting on updates, waiting on data, waiting… waiting… waiting. But what do we do in the midst of this time of waiting? What do we do as we wait expectantly for a promise to come to fruition?
That is exactly where we find the disciples at the end of our text for today. These disciples have been following Jesus around the countryside as he brought forth the good news of the Kingdom of God. They hoped that Jesus would bring it to completion right now. They have watched as their messiah was arrested, tortured and crucified. Their hopes were seemingly dashed as their dreams of the kingdom started to fade. Then they found new hope in the resurrection, as they began to understood just how powerful Jesus was. “It may just be possible that the kingdom of God will become a reality.” And then they find themselves taken out away from the city, and bluntly ask about what they have been waiting for all this time.
“Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?”
They had been waiting all this time for the messiah to make everything right for the Israelites, missing the much larger promise of the Kingdom of God. They had been waiting, as they rode a roller coaster of emotions, for the Kingdom of Israel to be restored. They were waiting for the messiah to do everything. They were waiting for the chosen one to make everything whole. They were waiting for the savior to heal the brokenness.
The people had been waiting on a great judge and warrior to come forth and drive the Romans from their land. To drive all the gentiles from the land. To drive all the occupiers out. To purify the land once more. To secure the safety of the people of God once more.
But that is not what they found in that moment. Instead Jesus replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.” Don’t worry about the timing. Don’t worry about the waiting. Don’t focus on all of that. Because…
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Don’t worry about the restoration of Israel, because you have work to do. Work that they have already been a part of and are practiced in doing; spreading the good news of the Kingdom of God. Starting with Jerusalem and the spreading out like ripples in the water until the whole world has heard the good news.
But the disciples needed to be jolted out of their surprise and back to reality, as Jesus ascended into the heavens. Each year as this text comes around I am excited because I love the imagery of the disciples staring up into the sky, mouths agape as they realize but refuse to admit that, what they have been waiting for isn’t going to happen the way they expected or wanted. The kingdom of God isn’t just going to suddenly happen. Instead as they watched Jesus ascend into heaven, those hopes and dreams were dashed and the gears in their minds may have begun to turn as they realize the work they have in front of them.
But as they are staring up into the sky they are suddenly brought back to reality by the sudden appearance of these two men, whom we may read as angels. These men startle the disciples when they say, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven?”
Why are you just standing there, you have work to do? Even then they had to wait some more for the Holy Spirit, but once they were stirred from their paralysis, they got to work doing committee work. Choosing Matthias to replace Judas as one of the twelve.
While you are waiting on the Kingdom of God to be known in all of it’s glory, you still have your part to do. You still have your own pieces to take care of.
When I find myself, waiting on those things that are seemingly out of my control, I don’t simply sit at my desk, twiddling my thumbs. Instead, there are always other things for me to do. There are other projects for me to work on. There are other responsibilities that I can take care of while I am waiting on other things.
As we find ourselves continuing to wait on others, waiting on leaders and elected officials, waiting on teammates, co-workers, committees, we still have our work to do. Even though we cannot safely gather a church in person, we still have work to do as church. We still have work of spreading the good news through our words and actions. We still have our responsibilities in caring for the least of these. We still have our tasks for bringing wholeness in our circles. We still have work to do, as we pursue the kingdom of God.
Even though we are not gathering in our building, we are still church and we still have work to do for the Kingdom of God.