I don’t know how large the liturgical calendar typically looms on the horizons of your mind, but yesterday was Ascension.
Ascension’s celebrated 40 days after Easter (on the Western calendar, at least). And it’s about pausing to remember that the key to Jesus’ real and ongoing presence with His disciples (Matt. 28.20) is only possible because of His real absence, because He has gone, ascended to His Father’s right hand.
From another perspective this ‘going’ is a ‘coming’. The coming of the Son of Man in Daniel’s apocalyptic terms. God’s anointed one ascending the throne of the Ancient of days. His royal installation.
As Rowan Williams puts it in his ‘Ascension Day’ sermon (Open to Judgement, p 82):
This is the transition that Ascension Day marks … it’s the moment when Jesus ‘goes away’, stops being an object we concentrate on in itself, and yet becomes more deeply and permanently present: ‘I am with you always, to the end of time.’ He is with us as the light we see by; we see the world in a new way because we see it through him, see it with his eyes.
The risen Lord Jesus has been installed on His throne. And He guides and governs His people as we wait for His parousia, His royal appearing — and the universal recognition of His rule.
Thus, all Christians are ‘apocalyptic’ in the sense that we’ve all been shown reality as it truly is, ahead of schedule. And, seeing clearly, we can get on with the business of reflecting Christ’s good rule — and pointing others to it — in the power of the Spirit and to the glory of God the Father…