I arise today...
... through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension ...
The Lorica of Saint Patrick (St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer)
Now that's the kind of strength we've been waiting for. We struggled last week with finding strength in death when what we really long for is the power over death.
I sometimes imagine the conflicting emotions the disciples must have felt. They knew Jesus had power over death. He raised Lazarus. He raised Jairus' daughter. But Jesus was alive when he performed those incredible miracles. If Jesus is in the grave, how can he raise himself?
Yet even this is easily within God's power. As Fredrick Buechner says, resurrection reminds us that the worst thing is never the last thing. The hope of resurrection gives us the strength to face the worst things.
What about strength in Christ's ascension?
We're not talking about the strength to fly, or even to be "caught up in the sky" with Jesus as some describe the last days. We're talking about finding our strength in Jesus' ascension. This is a bit more difficult because in some ways we wish he had never left.
Wouldn't the church and the Kingdom be stronger if Jesus had stayed on earth to run things himself instead of trusting his followers to keep it all straight for a few thousand years?
So where do we find strength in the ascension?
I confess these are just rough thoughts rather than a well researched theological treatise, but to me, at least one key strength in the ascension is the coming of the Holy Spirit.
I assure you that it is better for you that I go away. If I don’t go away, the Companion won’t come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.
John 16:7 (CEB)
I often ask the question, "If you could spend just one hour in person with Jesus or a lifetime with the Holy Spirit, which would you choose?" Who wouldn't jump at a chance to meet face to face with Jesus? We tend to get stuck in a spiritual holding pattern waiting to land in heaven where Jesus will meet us at the gate, because of course there is no TSA in heaven keeping him in the baggage claim.
If you could spend just one hour in person with Jesus or a lifetime with the Holy Spirit, which would you choose?
Where Jesus chose to limit himself to time and space so that we could know God, Holy Spirit has no such limitation.
Holy Spirit is just as much the real presence of God as Jesus in the flesh; only where Jesus dwelt among us, the Spirit dwells within us. We don't have to make an appointment or struggle to lower our problems through the roof of some poor soul's home to get to an audience with God (Mark 2:1-12).
We call upon the strength of the resurrection, but let us not wait until we are raised to live in that strength. The strength of the ascension, the Holy Spirit sent for us, is already praying on our behalf for all we need.
Do you ever feel like the strength of the resurrection is a future, after- death kind of reality?
In what ways to you find strength in the ascension of Christ?
Would you rather spend an hour with Jesus or a lifetime with the Holy Spirit (on this side of eternity)? Why?
Our journey through St. Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer continues next week:
... I arise today,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom ...