The Ascension: Witnesses to the Triumph


            When I was a teenager, I often would go to Manhattan with family or friends.  There was then, as there is now, a lot to see and do.  And then, as now, the streets were full of tourists.  One of the things that we teens would do is stop on the sidewalk and look up at one of the skyscrapers.  We would just stare and wait, until some of the visitors would stop and look.  After a suitable crowd would gather, we would leave as all the visitors kept looking at they didn’t know what.  Hey, I never said I was a nice kid.


            “Men of Galilee, why do you stare up into the sky.  This Jesus who has as been taken up into heaven will return the same way.”  Couple this with today’s Gospel, from Luke, “repentance for all nations should be preached in his name beginning from Jerusalem.  You are his witnesses.”  Together we have the message, “Stop wasting your time pining for the Lord, and instead get to work continuing his mission.


            The call of Christianity is immediate.  There is a whole world of people longing for lasting peace, for meaning in life, longing for Jesus Christ.  We can’t decide to go into action at some other time, some later on.  Jesus calls us into ministry now.


            Many times, the call comes through people who need us to reach out to them with a word or gesture when our minds might be on other things. Like children and Teens who ask the most important questions at the least opportune time, we are often called into ministry when we are quite busy with some other situation.  We are hurrying to get dressed to attend a party or a meeting and a thirteen year old decides that this is a good time to ask something about smoking.  We are trying to complete a job at work, and a co-worker stops by and mentions that he needs help with a personal situation.  The Lord’s time is often not our time. But we have to get into action.  We cannot and should not waste his time.


            About 30 years ago people in America were glued to the TV watching a series entitled, "Roots".  You might remember it.  It was the story a the ancestry of the author, an African American, Alex Haley. Haley had it in his mind that he was going to trace his family back to Africa.  But he only had two leads, he had a hint of a village in a section of Africa, and, more important, he had a name.  For generations parents had handed down the name “Kunta Kintae”.  Haley travelled over to Africa and went to quite a number of villages.  In each of these village there was the griot, or village story-teller.  Each griot would reflect upon the name Kinte, but none could relate any tradition they could tie that name into.  Then one day Halley came upon a griot who began rattling off names ending in Kinte.  It was an out and out genealogy with, “this one took for wife that one and they had this one and that one,” etc.  The griot went on for over two hours when he came upon the phrase "Omorro begot Kunte who left the village to chop wood and never returned."  Can you imagine the impact of these words upon Alex Halley?  The griot had revealed the story that Halley had spent so long looking to uncover.


            We know our roots.  And we are called by God to tell his story to a world that is seeking knowledge about its roots.  We are not to sit around staring at the sky.  We are not to keep the mystery of Christ secret.  Rather, we are to proclaim Christ, not just in what we say, but primarily in how we live.


            So many people long to understand the reason for their existence.  So many people are seeking meaning for their lives.  The Christians is called to provide this meaning.  We are called to live the presence of the Lord upon earth.  The Lord has ascended into heaven, yet he is still here, right here, among his people.


            We are his witnesses