Last week, Tracie and I went plant shopping and frequented a few Amish nurseries. In every shop we entered, there was a sign that said, "Closed May 5th Ascension Day"
For a largely unchurched society (some figures suggest over 60% don't attend church) this Amish sign may have raised questions. Confusion about holidays often raises questions. Here are a few questions and misrepresentations I have heard lately.
"What is Ascension Day?"
"Isn't May 5th the National Day of Prayer?"
"Ascension day is when (God) returned to heaven."
"Isn't May 5th the World Day of Prayer?"
"Wait, you won't be open on Cinco De Mayo? Isn't that a holiday in Mexico?"
As we shopped for tomato plants, I conversed with the owner of the nursery and I commended him for closing on Ascension Day. He looked at me with curiosity and I then shared of my vocation as pastor and he nodded. I said, "Do you realize how much of a witness your sign is?" He seemed to miss the point. I told him that many people do not know what Ascension Day is and may ask the Amish owner what it is. He nodded again and made the connection. He could tell people the day is observed because the Lord Jesus Christ ascended back to the right hand of the Father.
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured
the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who
endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
(Hebrews 12:2-3, NIV)
It is only the moment in history when Jesus commissioned His followers to spread the "Good News" to the world. Jesus gave opportunity to disciples to show God's love and redemption. It was the moment when Jesus said, "Go make disciples."
Some theologians will argue the commission was to the disciples of the day but not for us today. Some will say the command is for ordained clergy and pastors only. I don't interpret it as such. It seems to refer to anyone who seeks, loves, follows, and serves Jesus. It sounds like the church. Ascension Day gets lost in all the aftermath of Easter and spring's arrival. Too bad!
Back to the witness thing. What are we saying to the greater culture that raises questions in it? What actions are we living out that would cause an unchurched person to stop and question them? Are we living in a compelling way that would suggest our hearts have been transformed by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? Hope so! As the old hymn says, "We serve a risen Savior. He's in the world today." We also serve an ascended Savior who gave specific instructions for our waning days on earth. Make a spiritually eternal difference for those we meet. Blessings to you today as you share your witness.