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Sermon for Acts 1:1-11 - Why Do You Stand Looking to the Sky?

Right after World War II, a U.S. Army officer and his wife were stationed in Japan . That country had been devastated by the war. The post-war economy was in shambles. Unemployment approached 60%.  People came to the Army wife's door daily looking for work. One man said that he could do wonders for her garden if she would only give him a chance.  So, for the first time in her life, this young Army wife hired a gardener.  He spoke no English, but the wife, through sign language and pencil and paper gave him instructions about where to plant, prune, and pamper her garden. He listened politely and followed her instructions exactly. The garden emerged as the finest in the neighborhood.

When she finally realized that her new gardener knew far more about the matter than she, the wife stopped giving him directions and let him freely care for the garden. It was magnificent. Then one day the gardener came with an interpreter who expressed the appreciation but the regrets of the gardener. "He will no longer be able to care for your garden. He must leave."


The wife expressed her regrets and thanked him through the interpreter for making hers such a fine garden. Out of politeness, she asked the interpreter, "Where is he going?"


The interpreter replied that the gardener was returning to his old job as the Professor of Horticulture at the University of Tokyo .


I can imagine, can't you, the look that must have been on that Army wife's face when she discovered, that her gardener was the university professor of horticulture. No wonder he knew so much about gardening.


The disciples of Jesus were gazing intently into the sky. Two men in white clothing stood beside them; and they asked, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky?"


That's a good question. Why were they standing there gawking at the sky?  This is the day that we celebrate Christ's ascension into heaven. The Ascension is probably the most difficult event in the life of Jesus for us to reconcile with a scientific worldview. If Jesus ascended physically into the heavens, where was he going? Does that mean that heaven is a physical place somewhere out in space? It's a problem. And yet the disciples experienced something that they felt we ought to know about. It was a true mountaintop experience comparable to that which they experienced on the Mount of Transfiguration. And so they placed it in the biblical record.  Therefore, we must deal with it seriously. It may not fit our cosmology, but there are some theological truths here we need to deal with.


Why were the disciples standing there looking into the sky? I can think of several reasons, can't you?


1. First of all, they were in awe of Jesus and what they had experienced.

2. They were overwhelmed by what Christ had called them to do.

3. It was the sudden awareness of Jesus' absence.


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