Acts 1: 1-11; Luke 24: 46-53
In a conversation with a parishioner last week, we were talking about the impact that music has in our lives. If a song comes on the radio or up on our iPod, we can almost instantly be transported to a different time and space in our lives because it has become attached to a memory, for good or bad. Even here in church, songs remind us of weddings and funerals, make us smile or cry. Music, more than any other part of our culture, has that kind of impact on our lives. Even if it’s a song of thirty years ago, it feels like yesterday. We are transported to another place as if the spirit of it all still remains with us.
As hard as this Feast is hard to preach on and even more difficult to understand since it is so connected with Resurrection and Pentecost, I do believe that our experience of music is much like this feast for the disciples, a song that comes from within their hearts and they’re just beginning to learn to tune into it. It won’t be the typical song on the iPod, but rather one composed of Jesus’ words and actions that will finally begin to make sense. From this moment forward, Jesus is no longer confined by space and time, but now reaches to the ends of the earth, which is where they will now be sent to share the good news.
But the disciples aren’t there yet. The song is still unknown, and so Luke tells them stay put. Go back to Jerusalem where the passion and death had taken place, and stay there until God brings you to the point of understanding of what has gone on. They may know the verses and the notes of the song, but it still has not become the masterpiece that they and us will come to know, that this leaving they witness to is not an end, but rather a new beginning for them and us into a larger world; for now, they remain in Jerusalem waiting to be composed in order to be sent out. The song begins to come together when they remember the words and actions–the forgiveness, the repentance, healings, and words, then finally it will begin to make sense that Jerusalem was a necessary stop on the journey but not the place to dwell; a place of transformation in order to rise and ascend, a place where the power from on high will come upon them and the Spirit will lead them out to live the mission of the Christ. Not to be found by looking up in the clouds, as Luke tells them, but forward in witnessing to the Christ within and recognizing the Christ in the other. It is then that the song comes together and they can finally move beyond Jerusalem.
As we celebrate this great Feast and prepare for the coming of the Spirit on Pentecost next Sunday, we may find ourselves in Jerusalem, listening to the same song over and over again, dwelling in our own pain and suffering but also learning from it. Today is the day of hope that the pain and suffering is not the end, that the masterpiece of our own lives will one day come together and we, like the disciples at the end of the Gospel today, will give thanks to God. For the first time we will recognize that the song of our lives had nothing to do with us, but rather is God working through and within us, the presence of Christ in the flesh. And when the song finally comes together, we too will know what resurrection and ascension is all about in this moment and drop to our knees, not to look up in the sky, but to thank God knowing that it was the Christ composing all along, taking us beyond space and time, leading us to the masterpiece of our lives.