Acts 1:12 – Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city.


As we return with the apostles from Bethany to the city of Jerusalem – about three quarters of a mile – it is worth pausing for a moment to take stock, because what has been achieved in these opening eleven verses of Acts is nothing short of remarkable. The heart of it is the ascension of course. Jesus has ascended to the Father’s right hand. But what is also remarkable is that in the space of eleven verses we have managed to steer clear of two things that so often blight our witness: over enthusiastic apocalyptic on the one hand (trying to know the times and dates of the end) and dead religion on the other, where all we do is sit around wistfully remembering a departed leader. What we have instead is something far more compelling: the promise that the same force that empowered Jesus will now empower the church in mission. The fact that we are still waiting for Jesus to return after all this time would be no surprise to Luke. The scale of the mission is huge. But always the second coming sits there, in our worship and in our preaching, as a spur to keep going. After all, if you know that Jesus is Lord and that in the end God wins, what do we have to fear?


Prayer: Lord, keep me from wild speculations but also from dead religion. Keep my heart stayed upon you. Amen.