the story room

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Do you miss him, John?

For over a year now, those words have been echoing in my mind. They're not usually in the forefront of my thoughts, but every now and then I hear them again.

It's actually the title of a poem I'm trying to write (though I don't have anything on paper yet).

Maybe I've been thinking about it more lately because I'm working on preparing a little sermon-thing for a class project we're presenting on Thursday. We have to design a worship service, and since Thursday is Ascension Day, everything in our service centers around Acts 1:1-11, where the disciples are promised the Holy Spirit and Jesus is taken up to heaven.

I'm not trying to be difficult, but this passage is hard for me. I definitely recognize the power and the mystery and the beauty of it. It gives me hope for the future when Jesus will return, and it encourages me now while I wait.


I can't help but imagine the story from John's point of view. He was the one Jesus loved, and out of the Twelve, Jesus was closest with him. What was that like for John, to watch his Teacher, Savior, and quite possibly best friend disappear into the sky? I think about the overwhelming grief he must have felt when Jesus died, and I think about his unspeakable joy when he saw Jesus alive again, eating in their midst. Jesus was back! But a little over a month later, Jesus was gone again. He was alive, but he was gone.

The Holy Spirt came soon after that, so it's true that Jesus wasn't really gone for good. But it was different.

And this is where I struggle, I think. On the one hand, I feel so much joy for John (and the other disciples) because he was a witness of these amazing things, and was one of the first to have the Spirit of Christ living within him. Gosh, in his lifetime God even did miracles through him! But on the other hand, he had to watch Jesus disappear into the sky. What must that have been like?

Did he miss Jesus' booming laughter or the way he laid his arm across his shoulders? Did he miss his poignant but funny stories and the way he called his name? Did he miss his gaze and his embrace? What about all the memories he had? What was he to do with them? When he laid in bed at night, even filled with the Holy Spirit, did he feel the ache of lonliness, missing Jesus so much that he wanted to cry?

Sometimes I think it would have been cool to be in John's shoes, seeing everything he saw and being so close to Jesus. But I also think it would have been so much harder. Like John, I look forward to Jesus' return, but I don't understand what it feels like to miss him. I think I'm grateful for that.

Maybe it wasn't as hard for John as I think...or maybe it was. Maybe John knew more than I know now. Maybe it's something he learned as he got older, wiser. And what was it he learned?

And what are we to learn?


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