Adult Object Lesson: Ascension Sunday

What Do We Do While We Are Waiting?

This week is Ascension Sunday. The time has come for Jesus to end his visit to earth and return to His Father (and ours) in heaven.

Read the lesson from Acts 1:1-11 and focus on verses 4 and 5 and the appearance of the angelic messengers at the end in verses 10 and 11.

While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Jesus is speaking to people who are accustomed to waiting. They’ve been waiting as a people for the promised Messiah for centuries. They are just getting used to the idea that the Messiah is with them. If they think the waiting is over, they have another think coming.

In this narrative, time takes on a new dimension for the disciples.

Things are different now. Jesus gives his final instructions to the disciples. Return to Jerusalem and wait. It won’t be long before they will be baptized anew—this time with the Holy Spirit.

The disciples respond with all the humanity they cannot escape. They want a timetable. Jesus tells them that some things are none of their business. His promise to return softens this rebuke. But he leaves no doubt. God is in charge.

And so the long-confused disciples add a new dimension to their faith. They have a short-term promise and a long-term promise. Both of them are somewhat vague.

We’ll discover the answer to the short-term promise in a couple of weeks — on Pentecost. What a relief this must have been to the disciples waiting in Jerusalem! It was fairly immediate proof that God keeps his promises.

The second promise shapes our relationship with God today.

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

The early apostles believed fervently that they would see this second coming in their lifetimes. Two thousand years later, we still live our faith in waiting.

What do we do while we wait?

Today’s object is an alarm clock. We’re going to use it to help us think about time and what it represents to our faith.

Let’s review the features of an average alarm clock.

First, there is the dial—digital or analog—doesn’t matter. Time stares us in the face even if it’s on a sundial. It reminds us that we have to be somewhere in ten minutes or that we forgot to make that call. It reminds us that in two hours dinner has to be on the table. That dial keeps us locked in the present.

Then there is the “set alarm” feature. Ah! We can plan. We can schedule. We can feel in control!

Then there is the alarm. That audio prod. That spur in our side. The daily “call to action.”

How do we react?

Modern man solved the confusion between our inner desires and the call to action.

The snooze button.

Put life on hold for ten more minutes, one press of a button after another.

God made a promise to us. He will come again. How many times do we have to press the snooze button?

That’s not for us to know. It’s for us to live with and work for!

All we have to do is wait and put that short-term promise — the fire of the Holy Spirit — to work while we wait for that second promise to be fulfilled. You believe, don’t you?

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