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Not an end, but a beginning

April 23, 2022

Daily Scripture

Acts 1:9-14

9 After Jesus said these things, as they were watching, he was lifted up and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 While he was going away and as they were staring toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood next to them. 11 They said, “Galileans, why are you standing here, looking toward heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you saw him go into heaven.”

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, which is near Jerusalem—a sabbath day’s journey away. 13 When they entered the city, they went to the upstairs room where they were staying. Peter, John, James, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James, Alphaeus’ son; Simon the zealot; and Judas, James’ son—14 all were united in their devotion to prayer, along with some women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Luke wanted Theophilus (Luke 1:1-4) and all future readers to know that Jesus’ story didn’t end in Jerusalem with the cross, the resurrection, or even the ascension. The risen Jesus told his followers his saving work would keep right on going through the rest of human history. As the risen Lord left earth, two men in white (like the heavenly messengers who announced his resurrection—cf. Luke 24:4) said this was not the end of Jesus’ story—he would return. His followers (including Mary, Jesus’ mother—this is the last passage in the Bible that mentioned her) devoted themselves to prayer to prepare for the huge task that now lay before them.

  • Verse 14 introduces a theme that runs through the whole story of Acts: “The spirit of unity and the practice of prayer are major features of community life (cf. Acts 2:1, 42-44; 3:1; 4:23-32; 6:6; 13:1-3; 16:13, 16; 20:36-37; 21:5).” Some of this group had argued at the Last Supper about which of them would be the greatest (cf. Luke 22:24), and they would disagree at times in the years ahead (e.g. Acts 11:1-3, 15:1-2, 7). What united them in Acts 1? What do you imagine Mary, the eleven apostles (sadly, Judas was no longer with them), Jesus’ brothers and the others prayed about? We need that prayerful, worshipful unity to carry out the mission Jesus gave us as much or more as they did. In what ways can you cultivate an overarching spirit of unity with those who join you in serving God, even when there are differences of opinion or approach?

Lord Jesus, I get so busy, “devoted” to so many things. Remind me, at least five times a day, how important it is that I devote myself to prayer. Help me keep my connection with you living and active. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Shannon Greene

Shannon Greene

Shannon Greene is the Confirmation Director at Resurrection Leawood. She loves to read, drink coffee, write for her blog, and cheer on her favorite baseball team, the St. Louis Cardinals.

What now? I don’t know about you, but after finishing a really good book or watching a binge-worthy television show on Netflix or Hulu, I sometimes think, “What now?” If the book, TV show, or movie was especially enjoyable, I almost don’t want to start a new one, as if doing so would somehow ruin the sacred moment or break the spell.

I imagine after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, the disciples were probably experiencing similar feelings and asking, “What now?” How can you simply go back to fishing or tax collecting or even just living your life after encountering the Resurrected Jesus Christ? I cannot blame them for standing there, staring up into heaven, long after Jesus disappeared into the clouds! To preserve these special moments a little bit longer, Jesus’ disciples and closest friends gathered in Jerusalem to unite together and devote themselves to prayer.

But fortunately, the story doesn’t end there. The disciples’ next chapter would begin soon. Prompted by Pentecost (Acts 2), they eventually moved out of the upper room and went on to share the good news of Jesus “in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Sometimes, we would prefer to stay in the “holy in-between” a little longer. Like the disciples, we want to remain in the upper room for just a few more minutes, hours, or days. Let’s bask in the memories and not rush into what’s next. Let’s not start it quite yet. While we cannot stay in that posture forever, I believe God meets us in these in-between moments and the “What now?” ponderings. Maybe you are experiencing a season of wondering what is next. Perhaps you are discerning the next step is to take in your life. May you find God in the waiting. May you find comfort in your surrounding community, in prayer, and in the stillness of wondering “What now?” May Jesus meet you in the upper room.

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.