Why do you stand here looking into the sky? Acts 1:11
Do you blame them? The disciples had just been given this gift of time with the resurrected Saviour. Why would they not long for more of it? The whole scene is comical in many ways not simply because of a cloud watching crowd of disciples but because of the absurdity of it all. Jesus has died and his friends find themselves at their lowest moment. Jesus returns and they are terrified, but he reassures them, spends time with them, but then it all seems to come to an abrupt end with a clear message that there is a job at hand so let’s get to it. Why the rush?
Well if Luke was telling the story of all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning, then part of the point of Acts is to see Jesus, through his Spirit, working through the Church to establish his kingdom in the world. And not a kingdom as the disciples understood it.
N.T. Wright writes that “the method of the kingdom will match the message of the kingdom. The kingdom…goes out into the world vulnerable, suffering, praising, praying, misunderstood, misjudged, vindicated, celebrating: always – as Paul puts it in one of his letters – bearing in the body the dying of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be displayed.” It was as if God was aware of our most human tendencies: We wish for the good ol’ days. We think longingly upon moments worthy of celebration. We wish to experience God anew all over again as we once did. The resurrection isn’t about what was, it is about what could be. To be resurrected—to be alive in our world—is to keep moving forward. There is space to remember and celebrate, to learn and to process, but if we are to be resurrected people there comes a time where we no longer are looking in the sky for what was and instead trusting God’s promise of a beauty that lies ahead of us.
So perhaps on this first day of lent, as we begin this intentional season of reflection and preparation, the call is not for us to wish for days past, but to recognize God’s grace in every moment that was, and look forward to what could be.