New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition
44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46 and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised, so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and they were continually in the temple blessing God.
Memorial Day is a day for remembering. Remembering in a variety of ways. Many towns and cities have parades with flags flying, memorial wreaths placed, and veterans marching to remember those who served in our armed forces.
Memorial Day is a long weekend. Many are excited to have an extra day off to relax, not do regular work, and have a reason to say, “Monday is a holiday. I can do whatever I want (maybe!)” – even if we do whatever we want most of the time.
We look forward to Memorial Day to have a BBQ with family and friends and time to visit. A time to share stories and plans for the summer.
Memorial Day is, of course, the unofficial beginning of the summer season. If you go down to the shore, now is when they start charging you for beach passes.
Many look forward to this weekend and its significance for a variety of reasons. Those I have mentioned and others. We look forward to summer – no school! Kids know exactly what day is the last one before summer. The pools open. We gather our summer gear and get swimsuits out of their winter hiding places, getting ready for the vacation time we have been waiting for for months.
Memorial Day represents a time of waiting. Waiting for school to end and the arrival of vacation. Of getting in the water of the pool or the ocean hoping it’s not too cold. For the break until September when our regular routine resumes. To a time to recharge.
Here in Luke, Jesus does the final preparation of the disciples for what is next for them. Then he tells them to wait, not to go out to do these things, follow my lead, or find people to tell about him. Rather, Jesus tells them to go back to Jerusalem and wait. Wait for what God will give you. Then he disappears.
Can you imagine their reaction? We are supposed to go wait?! Wait by ourselves. Where are you going, Jesus? Why are you leaving us? What is it we are waiting for? You didn’t tell us that. Jesus only said that we would be clothed with some power from on high, whatever that means. What exactly are we waiting for?
We may see their waiting as a break from the whirlwind of the last three years, even the last week or the previous fifty days. A time to relax, put their feet up, and read a book. Take it easy until whatever it is that’s coming, comes. Then they will have to get back to work.
Waiting includes remembering. Remembering the empty tomb, the witness of the women that wasn’t believed at first, the words of the men at the tomb about not looking for the living among the dead. Remembering all they had been taught. Remembering the time they spent with Jesus.
Remembering isn’t always about letting go of the past. It is about putting the past in perspective and of putting that past in the context of our present. We aren’t to let go of the past, forget what happened, or put it on a shelf with all of the old photo albums.
We are to see the past as important, but it’s not where we stay. The past informs us, prepares us, and helps us to see importance of the present.
We remember the past. We look at the photos rather than only putting them away to gather dust. We tell stories of times we shared together, times that are important to us, and funny events that make us laugh.
Remembering is looking at where we have been and where we are, and to prepare ourselves for the future, whatever that might look like.
Remembering, waiting, and looking forward isn’t a linear progression even though some of us would like it to be that. Rather, it is a weaving in and out of the strands of these things. Remembering something in the past helps us to see something in the present as we look forward to the future and are then drawn back to the past to something important or meaningful. We see ourselves in the place we are now trying to balance what we knew and what may be ahead.
We might think of waiting as an interlude rather than a break. We know the disciples didn’t sit, put their feet up, and read books. The passage tells us that they were continually in the temple praising God. They didn’t go sit and wait with their hands folded wondering what would happen. The disciples continued on worshiping God, preparing for whatever was coming.
The time is an interlude. The music keeps playing during the transition to the next scene. The time is not for disappearing but for getting ready for whatever comes next.
Thinking about the people we know in the many Bible stories, we don’t hear of them taking breaks or vacations down the shore and having time off just for its own sake. Samson didn’t put his feet up. David didn’t spend lots of time in the palace on vacation – although he did from time to time. The disciples didn’t take a break just to take time off.
These are interludes. Periods away that are preparation for what is coming next. There are times for refreshment and renewal for sure, but these interludes are times of preparation before the invitation comes to go forward into a new adventure. To cross a boundary into unfamiliar territory – God’s territory.
The disciples had no idea of what lay ahead of them. Jesus had prepared them for it. Afterall, that was a part of the three years they had spent with him. He reminds them that at the last that he had prepared them. They know that the power from on high was coming to be with them. But they don’t know what that means or where that will take them. The disciples learned that the interlude was important. A valuable time to keep focused on God not only on themselves.
Memorial Day is a day we remember. It is an interlude of sorts. We share stories of the sacrifice of real, concrete people, not an amorphous group we don’t know. People know others who have served, read their names etched on the wall of a war memorial, and look at pictures and medals of those they know. Real people that remind us of our gratitude for what they have done and how they served, and the freedoms we have because of their service.
Memorial Day isn’t only a time to take a break to have a BBQ or go to the pool or down the shore. Memorial Day gives us a renewed sense of commitment to work for a world that is just, just as those who served did.
Our weekend or summer vacations are important interludes. The rest and relaxation aren’t only breaks. These are times God is preparing us for what comes next. We look at these times as breaks from the whirlwind of our regular life; all the while God is at work getting us ready.
We have no idea what the rest of 2022 will bring. We will take our breaks and live in a time of interlude. During this time there will be accomplishments and setbacks, victories and defeats, joys and sorrows triumphs and tragedies of a personal, communal, national, and global scale. We will all experience some of these events in one way or another – the good, the bad, and the not so great. We may wonder where God is in these things.
Interludes, the breaks we take from our regular routine, are the times God prepares us for our next adventure. Our breaks are an invitation to look for God at work without the whirlwind of distraction.
We can be confident that in all our breaks as well as other times in our lives, God, through the power from on high that we are clothed in, will be there comforting us, celebrating with us, strengthening us, accompanying us, and preparing us. Preparing us for comforting others, celebrating with others, and encouraging others. To live with less fear and more generosity. To look out for the rights of others. To strive for a more just community around us and in the world. To do all that we can to bring peace to lives, communities, nations, and the world.
Our interludes are times that God prepares us for the next adventure. At times we don’t see this as an adventure, but it is because it is where God is taking us that we might not have expected. God sees something ahead of us that we don’t imagine would be there.
Let’s see our breaks and our vacations as invitations to look for God at work without whirlwind of distraction of our school year, September through June, lives.
Interludes are a time of waiting, remembering, and preparation for God’s new adventure.