All of a sudden, they understood! The scared disciples becoming courageous proclaimers, the hesitant and doubt filled ones now bold and assured, the Aramaic speaking ones, now heard in all possible tongues. What was happening?
Jesus had promised from the very beginning that he would leave but that he would not leave the disciples alone. Again, and again, he told them that he would die and leave them, but the disciples did not believe. In fact, often they responded in despondency and anger. “Stop talking about that!” they would say.
But soon, the unthinkable happens and they all, in their own way, go back to life as before. The memories of their life with Jesus becoming like a fairy tale, sadness settling in because they missed their friend. Disappointment settling in because, for a moment, it seemed that all was lost. Then he appears, like he said he would!
He again walks with them and talks with them, he reminds them that they are to carry on the work that he had begun, that although he had to leave, he would not leave them alone, he would send his Spirit. As he was lifted into the heavens, he tells them to go back to Jerusalem and wait there.
You can only imagine the excitement mixed with apprehension as the followers of Jesus gathered in that upper room. This time they could not go back to life as usual. They had not just witnessed their friend, teacher, and Lord die, but now they had experienced his resurrection. They had touched his wounds, seen him enter into locked rooms, and disappear into thin air. They had been reminded of their mission, to continue the work that Jesus had begun. To continue healing, exorcising demons, restoring, forgiving, peace-making, loving. As they went about their work, they were to remind those around them that the kingdom of God was visiting them, the wholeness and completeness of God taking form right before their eyes.
You can imagine this upper room gathering in our congregation. We are supposed to do what? How are we supposed to do what Jesus did? There is no way that we can continue this work!
Yes, it is so much easier to settle for the tame, safe, and average doings of religious life. The rhythms of occasional church attendance, a Bible study here or there, an occasional offering. We can do that, that is achievable. After all, it is the language that we know.
Jesus had other things in mind!
His life, death, and resurrection showed us that we could become more, we could be agents of God’s change – not just to those that we know, that look like us, to those that speak our language, but instead to all of humanity.
This language, the language of redemption, new life, forgiveness and reconciliation, peace, and love is a universal language that opens the pathways for all of creation to live into the fullness of God, right here, right now.
Left on our own we cannot just do this. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of God that works within us. It is God’s Holy Spirit that empowers us to proclaim the message of love and hope, that changes us and transforms our world.