Acts 1:1-11 (NRSV)

1 In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning

2 until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.
3 After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
4 While staying a 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; 
5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with b the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 
6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
9 When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.
10 While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them.
11 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.”

John 16:7 (NRSV)

7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate a will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.                            

DEVOTION –  Edward L. Kelly, Jr. (Iowa)

My father was in the military and frequently traveled abroad for extended periods of time.  We missed him, but there was something we looked forward to when he returned: the reunion and hi presence in our lives again.  We would  hug him and he would always give each one of us a gift, wrapped in newspaper that we would tear into joyfully.

Ascension Sunday celebrates the gift that Jesus sent back to us after he ascended into heaven.  John called it to the “Advocate,” and Luke refers to it as “power” from the Holy Spirit.  Two aspects of this gift are somewhat like my father’s returning.  First, the Holy Spirit is the presence of God in our lives.  Secondly, we can receive with joy the gift of divine power.  It is not the power to dominate or control but the power for witnessing and service.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: God has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit and divine power to serve others.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, help us to realize the gift that you have given to us and use it to bring Christ to others.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.