Today is the Feast Day of The Ascension of our Lord. There will be worship services and various observances of the ascending of the Resurrected Jesus into heaven.
The period of time between Easter and Ascension is 50 days. It is a time for Jesus to be seen by those who were devastated by his death. Those 50 days are dedicated to realizing that he has indeed risen from the grave. Now, the next phase must begin.
What comes next is his seating at the right hand of the Father. What comes next is the transition from beloved teacher and rabbi to Messiah.
If he were to remain teacher/rabbi/even resurrected Jesus the fullness of what he came to do will not be accomplished. It is when we begin to have a Messiah, a Saviour, a Christ, that our lives achieve the fullness God hopes for us.
It was difficult for his followers to see Jesus breathe his last breath from the cross. It was difficult for them to be left behind as Christ is lifted up and removed from their midst. It was difficult, but it was necessary.
In John 16:7 Jesus says, "It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you." Jesus leaves; the Holy Spirit comes to guide us; we are positioned for the life and hope God has for us.
The magnitude of Jesus' departure cannot and should not be compared to anything else. It is truly a singular event. However, having seen the after effects of his departure (it is after he leaves that the Church begins and grows into the world-wide community it now is) we have courage for the smaller departures which we face.
This is the final devotional offering for the year. Some of you will be reading this from home, having already left campus. Others are still here, but packing and preparing to leave Clemson with a degree in hand. It is difficult to say goodbye. But it is also Okay. It is, in so many ways, necessary.
Only in leaving does Jesus experience the Church he has in mind. Only when his time among us ends does the time begin when the Church can come to life and flourish. Only by enduring the pain of separation can the fullness of God's gift be received.
God go with you - for the summer, as you begin careers. God has blessed us with this time together. May it sustain us for the days which lie ahead.