“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’” (Acts 1:8-11) As Christians we spend a good deal of time commemorating certain key events in Jesus’ life. So we celebrate Christmas, we remember Good Friday and we rejoice at Easter. But we rarely talk about another crucial event in his life: his ascension – his return to the Father who sent him. But it is his ascension which is so crucial for our faith. That’s true for a number of reasons; here are two. Jesus returns in order to send his Spirit, the Holy Spirit so that he might be present to us anywhere at any time. We are empowered for mission and we need not (and we cannot) simply stare into heaven, waiting for his return. But second, even as we are empowered for mission we also know that our Lord is praying for us. He ascends with his resurrected humanity. He still understands our weakness, he gets our penchant for staring into space but he does not leave us there. Even now, Jesus is praying for you and me. Even now he is calling out your name and encouraging you to see the need and share the good news to the very ends of the earth.