Ascended, Yet Continuing

Pastoral Reflections

“They may be dead, but their [work] lives on.” This tribute is familiar at the death of someone who has left behind a legacy. We recognize the impact of memorable accomplishments, be it in art, oratory powers or a noble cause.

When it comes to the ascension, it is different. We do not proclaim that Jesus’ works live on in the same way that a famed poet’s works live on after them. Their poetry, which they penned while alive, continues to be remembered. But they no longer pen poems.  
Here’s how Luke began his second Book in Acts 1:1-2a: In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven. (emphasis mine)
After Luke had written the Gospel narrative, he found it necessary to write a second volume. Here he describes the first volume, i.e. Christ’s physical ministry up to the ascension, as the beginning of His doings and teachings. In other words, this second volume should be read as the continuation of His doings and teachings (through his disciples empowered by His Spirit).
The ascension did not leave a work behind to be remembered. The ascension itself is part of the ongoing work, unfolding God’s redemption plan for humankind. Think of it, the Gospel story itself would not be complete without the Son finishing the work and taking His place by the Father in glory. The ascension, therefore, is one of the landmarks of the Gospel narrative.
Tonight, as we mark the ascension of our Lord in an evening service, we do not proclaim that His works live on merely as Shakespeare’s work lives on. The Kingdom which He proclaimed and demonstrated in His incarnation was only sprouting among us. It continues to blossom in the fresh dew of the Spirit.
Donald Nwankwo
The Light of Christ Anglican Church
4000 W. Yale Ave.
Denver, CO 80219