May 18, 2023
Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. John’s,
This Sunday we celebrate the Ascension of our Lord. It is the moment of His glorification, especially as He ascends to the right hand of the Father. However, we notice that there is a certain sadness and trepidation that the disciples feel about the situation because the one that they have been following for three years is leaving them. Despite this, Jesus gives them the great commission, to Go. Make. Teach. It is almost as if He does not understand their situation. Yet Jesus is fully aware of their worries and He reassures them saying, “Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Jesus also sets the stage for the coming of the Holy Spirit as He tells them to wait in Jerusalem to receive the power of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to give us the power to be His witnesses. One of the biggest worries I have is how I can love people in the way that Jesus loves them. I meet all sorts of people in all sorts of different situations, and each person encounters Jesus differently. One of the biggest places I see that play out is in funerals. Some people deal with their sadness by keeping busy, others by telling jokes or stories, some need to mourn through it all, and still others will draw back and just allow things to happen. In all these cases, the person is dealing with loss, and in all the cases Jesus wants to meet them and to love them. The question now is do I trust God to send the Spirit to work through me so that they can be ministered to? So far, our Lord has not failed to show up when I entrust that time to Him. It is with the Holy Spirit that I am able to work with those who want to keep busy, to share stories with those who need to talk, to grieve with those who mourn, and to lead those who need others to take care of things for them. I am able to be all things to all people through the power of the Holy Spirit so that Jesus may meet them where they are at and so that they may encounter His love for them.
As we celebrate the Ascension, we glorify our Lord who now returns to the right hand of the Father. We also hold fast to His promise to send the Holy Spirit among us so that we can be His witnesses in the world.
Father Joseph Nguyen