And remember, I am with you always.... These are Jesus' final words in the Gospel of Matthew. The vast majority of Biblical scholars do not attribute them to the original author, but a later editor/translator. But, be that as it may, these words are meant to be a reminder to us that Jesus' presence here on earth did not end upon his physical departure, which we mark today.
I find the choice of tense interesting and attractive today: I am with you...... I am. This isn't some future promise but is present and active. I am also has such strong Biblical connotations dating back to God's first interaction with Moses: I AM who I AM.....
Ascension Day is not taken very seriously in some corners of the Church. It should be. For God's active, real and loving presence is represented in this Holy Day. This day is like so much of life: a bittersweetness pervades the whole notion of this day. Jesus leaves earth, no longer to be seen with our eyes. And there can be a sadness, a melancholy that can set in over us. But these last words, I am with you always, are meant to strengthen us in times when we believe we are alone; remind us of the truth of God's promise embodied in Jesus' life and ministry; and propel us to action in creating the Kingdom Jesus opens for all of us.
A Blessed Ascension Day to all of us.
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Allie Charging, 2008, jfd+