Dazed and Confused
June 2, 2014
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 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.” When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 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.”
My parents like to invent holidays for interstitial liturgical space.
They have created their own holiday for Holy Saturday, wherein they eat Indian food, and slap their foreheads in agony, in observance of how distraught the disciples must have been on this day.
They have not yet tackled the 10-day stretch between Ascension and Pentecost, but really, someone should. Because it presents a golden opportunity of the disciples to be dumbfounded, confused and upset.
Here, Jesus had just returned to them! He had just come back from being dead, and now, again he was leaving them. Again he was saying goodbye. Talk about an unfair emotional roller coaster. No wonder they were standing still, staring after him.
They didn’t know when Pentecost was coming. All they knew was that Jesus was leaving yet again, and he had promised to be with them….at some point, in some form, in some way. But that right now, he wasn’t here in the same way he had been.
We don’t know what the disciples did in the time between Ascension and Pentecost. That’s not something anyone thought was important enough to stick in the textual record.
But what we do know is that, ten days later, they still were together. Confounded, anxious frustrated….and sticking together. With no clear direction, no clear plan, and little signal that it was going to get better, the disciples stuck together, and waited for the dawn to break, for the Spirit to arrive, for something to change.
I picture them, huddled in that room, meeting together day after day, waiting stubbornly. When one got especially frustrated, the others would be encouraging, and it was in that time that the community of the church began to form.
Until, finally! The spirit came.
Make a list of the people you ‘stick with’ no matter what. Family, friends, church community: people you confide in when you feel yourself adrift and confused. Put the list somewhere safe, so you can refer to it the next time you need it.
Legend is the apostles were devoted to prayer for the Holy Spirit in the days after Ascension. This forms the basis in tradition for the Novena, the practice of praying nine days in a row for a shared intention. Not certain where the legend originates but I’d start my search with Eusebius who is the source of many similarly pious beliefs.