“He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.” Acts 1:9

So! Are you ready? Got your decorations up, shopping done, dinners planned, cards sent out, time set aside for that special worship service? No? What for, you say? Why, for Ascension Day, of course! Oh, you don’t do those things to celebrate Ascension Day? Oh! You don’t even know when it IS?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Most Christians don’t mark that special day in Jesus’ life on earth – they can all tell you when we celebrate his birth, death, and resurrection, but ascension? Not so much. Yet Jesus’ ascension is the fourth major event in his life on earth. It is the day Jesus took his visible presence from his disciples, but not before commanding them to spread the gospel, and not before promising to send his Holy Spirit to them in special measure.

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:3) Jesus spoke these wonderful words to his disciples just before his impending death and crucifixion. His dear friends and followers were disturbed, confused, and troubled, not understanding what was about to happen. But he did just that – he prepared a place for each of them—and us—when he uttered, “It is finished.” He had lived the perfect life we can’t and paid the price of hell we owed for our sins. We can look forward to taking our place in heaven with him.

Upon his resurrection he prepared his followers for his physical departure from among them, leaving them with the promise that he would be with us always to the very end of the age. And just before he was lifted up into the clouds, he told them, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) What a daunting task that must have seemed to them, and what a daunting task it sometimes seems to us, his present day disciples.

But now, just as then, the Holy Spirit gives us power to witness, power to wait for his second coming, and power to pray. After Jesus’ physical departure, the disciples returned to Jerusalem and “all joined constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” (Acts. 1:14) What a great example for us to follow! After all, prayer is one of our most powerful mission support tools. And the great thing is we don’t have to know the details of the mission or missionary’s situation—God knows. And we certainly don’t have to provide God with our ideas of the best solutions to their challenges and difficulties—God already has a perfect plan for them.

So let’s rest our hearts on Jesus’ great promises, let’s do the work he has set before us, let’s follow the early disciples’ example of constant prayer, and let’s CELEBRATE ASCENSION DAY! Find out if your church or area is having a service on Thursday, May 9th, and set aside time to ponder the end of Jesus’ physical time on earth. We have the great blessings of knowing he is with each of us always, no matter where we are, and that his Holy Spirit will guide and direct us, even giving us the words to say in order to share Jesus with the world.

I’m going up! Are you, too? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if hundreds of millions of people now living in darkness would join us in taking the place prepared for us in heaven? Thank you, Lord, for all the willing workers, called and lay, who dedicate their lives to sharing your love for sinners with those near and far. According to your promises, bless our words as we speak your Word to others.