Posted by: jevcat | May 13, 2010

Ascension Thoughts

 “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven?”  (Acts 1:11, NRSV)

 That’s what we always do, isn’t it, when we don’t know what to do?  We stop and stand.  So there the disciples are, standing gape-mouthed, until the angel’s question.  Even then, it takes them a while to pull themselves together – it takes Pentecost, in fact.  But that comes later.  For now, they’re just standing.

And they’re not the only ones; closeness to God does not necessarily prevent that paralysis.  I remember taking a class called Ancient Hebraic Folklore in college, and one of the text books pointing out that at the beginning of the Exodus, with Egypt not yet escaped, the Red Sea in front, Pharaoh and his army close behind, and the Children of Israel in even more than their usual rebellious uproar, where do we find Moses?  Is he leading his people boldly out?  No, he’s standing there kvetching to God, who finally loses patience and tells him to get off his ass and get moving – although the Bible phrases it somewhat more genteelly, the exasperation is evident:  “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry out to me?  Tell the Israelites to go forward.’ ” (Exodus 14:15, NRSV)  And Moses does.  (Personally, given the corporate temperament of that band of ex-slaves, I wouldn’t have wanted to be the one to have to get them moving, either.) 

So God lets us have that moment – to be afraid or bewildered or amazed – but it’s not an indefinite moment.  Then God sends the message:  okay, now do something.

I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on myself when I stand frozen – I’ve got plenty of good company – but I shouldn’t stay there too long.  It’s time to get a move on.


  1. I don’t know whether I count as “good” company but you’ve got me. “Standing there, kvetching to G-d?” Yeah. Been there. Done that. Did it today. More than once. Okay; more times than I could count. Feh! I’m glad Y’shua gave us the story of that persistent widow, which, essentially, reassures us that it’s not only okay but holy to “kvetch at G-d.” Why? Because it shows that we believe in Her.

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