Read: Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35
4 Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
extol him who rides on the clouds;
rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
6 God sets the lonely in families,
he leads out the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
Readings: Acts 1:6-14
6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 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.”
9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
“This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven,
will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
But where are you, Jesus,
when bombs tear through people
when hatred is solidified
into the destruction of lives?
Where are you, Jesus,
when lives are lost through violence,
– violence both sanctioned and unsanctioned –
when incendiary self-righteousness
shrapnels everything in its path?
Where are you, Jesus,
when people weep for their loved ones
or what remains of them,
when faith is scattered like human flesh
over an arena in Manchester or a Libyan street?
Where are you, Jesus?
Like your disciples we search the sky,
hoping to glimpse something,
hoping to see – hoping to hope.
Is our search fruitless?
Do angels answer us, “Why do you stand here
looking at the sky?”
Are we looking for you in the wrong places, Lord?
Searching for you in the heavens rather than looking for your face
among the mourners, the wounded, the dead?
Do we stare at the heavens
rather than seek you in the pain of loss
the incomprehension of cruelty
the acts of kindness and commiseration
the hope that tomorrow will be better
even if today’s actions are inexcusable?
Do we find, in looking at the heavens,
an answering search to ours?
Oh, find us, Lord,
and help us to find you.