"Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about." Acts 1. 4
I wonder how the disciples, now apostles, felt on the morning after Jesus' ascension? Were they itching to go, or nervous about the future. Had they a sense of the hand of God being on their shoulder, or were they just desperately hoping the Romans wouldn't find them?
As we celebrate Ascension and Pentecost in our own unique circumstances, we find ourselves pondering the significance of our own experience: are we just unlucky, or are we poised for something extraordinary? I have just been attending a Church of Scotland webinar, which gathered 1000 office-bearers to focus on the needs and opportunities we face. There were plenty of ideas, and a few threats, winging around but nobody was talking about waiting. That is understandable, when the water is pouring into the ship, it's all hands on deck!
But the metaphor only holds if we really are in the grip of a storm. But what if God is in control? In fact, didn't Jesus prove on the lake (Mark 4. 35-41), that it is possible both to be in a storm and for God to be in control? That being the case, a whole new possibility opens out, in which we can be attentive to the one in control rather than to the storm which rages.
We musn't be complacent: people are dying and our resources are diminishing. But believing that the future belongs to God, let us take the time to join those disciples/ apostles in their waiting... for the gift the Father promised. Then we shall know what to do and, just as important, we shall have the resources we need.
'Thy Kingdom Come' is a global initiative which invites the whole Church to gather in prayer between Ascension and Pentecost, in the expectation that the experience will orient and equip us for faithful service in the future. That feels like the right place to start. So let us pray...