Pr. Cathy Daharsh
“…Why do you stand looking up toward heaven?” - Acts 1:11
When our boys, Aaron and Mitchell, were very young I would take them to swim class. They were so young that I got in the pool with them. The swim instructor taught the parents to help their children to swim. After showing the children how to move their arms and legs, we would hold our children up with a hand under their back or belly while they practiced their swim strokes. Holding them up prevented them from sinking below the surface triggering a panic response that would cause them to lose concentration and confidence. By giving them support with our hand, they could practice their swimming without fear knowing that we would catch them if they started to sink. Over time they learned to relax because they trusted that we would keep them safe.
Then one day, we’d let go. They could swim all on their own. That was an exciting and memorable moment. The boys would finally understand that it was not actually me who was holding them up and keeping them from sinking, it was their own ability that was allowing them to swim. Their trust evolved and became a new kind of trust. It changed from believing that I would keep them from sinking to they could keep themselves from sinking.
In the beginning of the book of Acts, the disciples watched Jesus ascend into heaven, until “a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going, and they were looking up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’” - Acts 1:9-11
The disciples had walked with Jesus as he taught them. He had always been there for them. When he was crucified they thought they had lost him, but he returned through the resurrection. By seeing him resurrected, their faith had evolved. Now, in the Act story, he was leaving them again this time after he had risen. There was just one last thing that needed to be done. Jesus needed to let the disciples go. The two men in white robes reassured the disciples that though Jesus had been taken up into heaven, through the work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus presence was still with them.
Like in those swim classes when parents carefully remove their hands from holding their children up, the disciples were ready to take their faith into their community. They now had the confidence and courage to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
I hope you know that Jesus has given you the ability to make it through this pandemic. Through the work of the Holy Spirit YOU are given courage and strength. You are stronger than you know. We have made it 61 days already in Shelter in Place. It’s not easy, but you are doing it. Hang in there! Trust in God’s work. Amen.