‘Look up’ is the new ‘Look down’. Just as oil is the new slavery, pale is the new tan, Sugar is the new fat, television is the new reality, knitting is the new rock ‘n’ roll, Mission area is the new Deanery and everything it seems is the new black. (See “the diagram” click on this link at your own risk) The disciples were caught gazing into space after Jesus. Just as many are caught gazing endlessly at some invention or other in their hand, ‘if only you looked up now and again and saw what was around you!’ Cry those who despise social media and the gadget age. Men of Galilee why do you stand looking into heaven? Here in this one reading we have a number of different perspectives of our faith, most of which are now exaggerated by some group or other at the expense of other aspects and to the detriment of themselves! Now it is a bit of a caricature I know, however…
Disciples are eager for the restoration of Israel. Might call this the Zionist camp, or “Romans go Home.” Why? So we can spectacularly mess it up ourselves.
We see Jesus promising the Holy Spirit. The Charismatic movement, waiting and calling for the holy spirit from God, again and again, more power!
And Jesus encourages them out to witness to the end of the earth.
The Evangelical movement preaching earnestly but often not actually teaching about Jesus’ life, just the last few hours.
Then we see the disciples staring into heaven after Jesus. Those waiting around for Jesus to come back, presumably to get things started? (but of course the disciples are not doing anything themselves just yet.)
And finally then we see the disciples devoting themselves to prayer. The image of those who, always in church, always seem to be praying for solutions, and waiting for the answer to arrive.
But the restoration of Israel is really just a relationship, the covenant between God and the people.
(Ezekiel) The Holy Spirit was sent to enable and to give the disciples the tools for the job. Telling the stories of the faith, honestly, as if they were about our lives, because Jesus always focussed upon those around him. Beginning to recognise elements of the Christ in those who are around us, so that there is no need to wait to begin bringing in the kingdom. And praying, not for solutions, but to be the change that we want to see in the world. Add it all together? You might just have the beginnings of something worthwhile…