Summary: The disciples had to wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit; what do we do when we are waiting for God to act in our lives?
Sermon Waiting for God
Grant that we might hear what you would have us hear, grant that we might see what
you would have us see, and grant that we might do what you would have us do. Amen.
I would like to focus this morning on those times when we must wait for God -- those
times when God seems removed form us -- when we have needs and he has not yet
answered those needs.
This Sunday we celebrate the Ascension of Christ into Heaven. Actually Ascension Day
was last Thursday – forty days after Easter – and ten days before Pentecost – which we
celebrate next Sunday. And, of course on Pentecost we celebrate the out pouring and
indwelling of the Holy Spirit – the act by which God empowered the church for its mission
in the world.
In contrast, our Scripture lesson this morning involves a period of waiting -- It is a short
and unusual time for the fledgling Christian community: Christ has ascended into heaven
– His earthly ministry has been completed. But the Holy Spirit has not yet descended
upon the church to empower it and inspire it to its mission.
The fledgling Christian community is not yet the church in a real sense – that will not
happen until Pentecost. Instead – we see a small group of believers waiting for God –
waiting for help and his instruction about what to do next in life. I think we have all been
in a situation like that..
In First Century Jerusalem a whirlwind of events has occurred in such a short time:
• Jesus had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Passover.
• He had been betrayed by Judas
• He had been arrested.
• He had been abandoned and denied by Peter.
• He had been tried before the Sanhedrin.
• He had been condemned by Pilate to crucifixion.
• He had died a horrible death on the cross.
• He had risen from the dead.
• He had appeared in Jerusalem – along the road to Emmaus – at the Sea of Galilee
and upon a mountain.
• He appeared to the disciples a final time – on the Mount of Olives – about 3/4 of
a mile outside the Old City of Jerusalem.
In this final encounter with the Risen Christ – the disciples ate with him. As they dine,
He instructs them to go into a period of waiting –
Christ says to the disciples that they must wait for a few days – that they will be baptized
by the Holy Spirit. The disciples want to know when it will be – and Christ tells them:
It is not for you to know the times and dates the Father has set by his own authority.
And then Christ gives them a promise and a mission:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my
witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.
With that – Christ departs from this earth. He is taken up to heaven in a cloud of glory.
The flurry of activity – all of the excitement – all of the emotions – all of the confusion
about what it all means -- it all comes to an end. A hush falls over the disciples. They are
alone. Christ is gone – The Holy Spirit has not arrived –
The great events of the life and ministry – the death and resurrection – of Jesus are over.
The great mission of the church has not yet begun.
The disciples are left in a waiting period. We are told by the book of Acts that there
were only about 120 people who believed in the resurrection of Christ – a small number
when compared to the thousands who had flocked to Him during his time on earth.
This small group will become the core of the church -- they will soon burst forth in a new
flurry of activity -- the church soon will explode across the Roman world -- but for now
there is a small group of people – most likely a group of exhausted and confused
individuals -- waiting for what comes next –
What do you do when you are waiting on God like that?
We have all had times when we are waiting for God. This time of year when students
are graduating – there are those who have a firm sense of direction and purpose – They
have a goal for the future -- something they want to accomplish.
But there are others -- those who are at a loss -- those who do not have a clear vision of