Thursday, May 25 is the actual day of observance for the Day of Ascension; we will commemorate the Ascension this Sunday. The reading from Acts 1, asked this question of the people present for this event: “Why do you stand gazing up into heaven?” It’s a question worth exploring.
This is 2017, but an Englishwoman Michelle Philpots wakes up every morning thinking it’s 1994. She is literally stuck in the past because she suffers from “anterograde amnesia”, a brain condition resulting from a serious car accident. Her memory is wiped clean of current events, sometimes within minutes of them occurring. For 23 years, every morning, her husband has to show her their wedding album and explain that they are husband and wife. Michelle has finally learned to cope with her amnesia, leaving herself Post-it notes on the refrigerator and helpful reminders in her cell phone. Still, if she ventures away from home, she has to use her GPS to find her way back.
This woman’s condition may sound strange, but many in the church world is plagued with the same disorder. Often, we get stuck in memories of the past and give no thought to what God wants to do right now in us, through us and among us. God says in Isaiah 43, “See, I am about to do a new thing.” The new thing that Jesus promised on the Day of Ascension was the coming of the Holy Spirit to live within us to lead, guide and direct us in everything God has for us. Christians stuck gazing in the past have spiritual amnesia like Michelle Philpots’ physical condition. God wants us to learn to cope with it using Post-It notes from scriptures, and helpful reminders from preachers and others within our family of faith so that we keep finding our way to what God has for us right now.
Join us at Covenant this Sunday as we celebrate the Ascension. My sermon will be “Don’t Just Stand There,” based on Acts 1:1-11 and Luke 24:44-53.