Solemn and Celebratory

Yesterday was Ascension Day (the fortieth day after Easter, as referenced in Acts 1:3).  This Sunday the sanctuary service will celebrate Ascension Sunday (reading Luke 24:44-53).  As I've mentioned before, you'll be hard-pressed to find a greeting card for Ascension Sunday, even though, historically, it has ranked with Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost.

I learned recently that the Amish treat Ascension Day very solemnly.  They consider it a sad day because Jesus left us.  Other churches have celebrated this as another joyful occasion in the resurrection accounts - Jesus assuming his place of honor at the right hand of the Father (after promising to never leave us - Matthew 28:20 - and to send the Holy Spirit to make his presence known - John 14:15-17, 25-26).

In any transition life can be simultaneously solemn and celebratory.  It will soon be graduation day for high school students.  That is a day to celebrate accomplishments, the start of something new, and it's a day of conclusion, the end of much that's familiar.

A new (or newly devoted) life in Christ is a difficult transition.  There's so much to celebrate about someone becoming committed to Jesus that we don't give enough credence to the challenges that come with it.  Not only are the old habits often difficult to break, relationships get adjusted.  Someone who used to amuse with racy or racist humor and now recognizes the offense of that is ashamed of what he once said and seeks to no longer say it.  Those who enjoyed his humor before can't understand why he won't share in it now and feel judged.  The relationships have changed, a loss, even though it's for good reason. 

Paul knew the early Christians were facing all sorts of changes in their lives as they became committed to Jesus.  The Holy Spirit was necessary to help them through these challenges.  If they were to live the new life he describes in Galatians 5:16-26 (the reading for The Well this Sunday), they would need the Spirit to move in their lives.  Those early Christians weren't the last ones to need help in leading a faithful life.  Join me in praying for the Spirit to help us live each day in ways that honor our Lord Jesus.