Almost everything around us contains pores – the timber floor under our feet, the paperback in our hand, and the cotton sheets on our bed. Our skin and our brain are porous. Pores are a necessary part of our health and well-being. For example, blood in our skin opens and closes the pores in our skin enabling us to cope with temperature changes.

Pores are a necessary part of the material world. On one occasion walking through the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, AZ, I learned that in line with all flora, the saguaro cactus has pores in its skin that open and close to collect carbon dioxide. During photosynthesis, plants turn the collected carbon dioxide into food in the form of sugars. While most plants open their pores during the day, cacti and other nocturnal plants such as the aloes open their pores at night.

At another level, pores in the earth’s surface enable the movement of vital water that sustains life. In recent times scientists are exploring ways to store climate gases in the earth’s surface. Porosity is an important aspect of the world around us and to our own life and well-being.

That said, materials such as glass, plastics and metals and other human developments are typically non-porous.

Now, let me take this notion of porosity to a totally different level: the porosity of the universe. I’m referring to a non-material supernatural dimension of existence, beyond the space-time material world that is capable of movement within the material universe.

The big question that arises here is this: how do we know it’s true?

When we turn to the four records of the life of Jesus Christ, known as ‘Gospel’, we find that by the closing chapters it appeared that the Roman and Jewish authorities had won the day. They had felt threatened by an outsider, Jesus of Nazareth, who wielded extraordinary power and attracted vast crowds. But then there came the day when they put him to death by extreme torture, Roman crucifixion.

But the Jesus story didn’t end there. All four Gospel records reveal that the impossible had happened. Jesus was seen alive again. He not only met and spoke with his closest followers but also ate with them. He was not some ghostly apparition or a figment of the imagination.

Now you may have difficulty with the notion of Jesus’ resurrection, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. In his book, God and Stephen Hawking, Dr John Lennox, emeritus professor of mathematics at Oxford University, observes that many scientists today say ‘miracles arose in primitive, pre-scientific cultures, where people were ignorant of the laws of nature and so readily accepted miracle stories’ (p.82).

To this Professor Lennox responds, ‘In order to recognize an event as a miracle, there must be some perceived regularity to which that event is an apparent exception! In other words, we don’t need the benefit of modern science to define an extraordinary event’ (pp.84f).

Dr. Lennox further comments, ‘From a theistic perspective, the laws of nature predict what is bound to happen if God does not intervene… To argue that the laws of nature make it impossible for us to believe in the existence of God and the likelihood of his intervention in the universe is plainly false’ (pp.86f).

God’s people understand that ‘the laws of nature’ are the observable regularities that God the creator has built into the universe. However, such ‘laws’ don’t prevent him from intervening if he chooses. When he does, we are able to identify the irregularity and speak of it as ‘a miracle’. Jesus’ resurrection was not the result of a natural mechanism. Rather, it happened because God chose to intervene with supernatural power (Romans 6:4b).

One of the distinctives of the biblical record is the interaction and movement between the heavenly sphere and the world of our experience. A further example of this is found in the opening chapter of Dr. Luke’s second volume, The Acts of the Apostles.

In the opening lines of Acts chapter 1, we read that for some six weeks following his resurrection Jesus met with his close followers and others, teaching them about the kingdom of God (1:3).

Sensing that the age of God’s Messiah had dawned, the disciples asked: “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” Excited by the idea that Jesus was going to reveal his status as Israel’s true king, they were thinking in political and nationalistic categories.

And through the ages many have thought in similar terms. But it’s important that we focus on Jesus’ response: “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority (1:7). ‘You’re not to worry about times and end-times,’ he is saying. ‘I’ve got something much more important for you to do with your time and energy: “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

In commissioning his disciples as witnesses, Jesus wants us to know that what they passed on is nothing but the truth. This is so important. It assures us that we do live in a porous universe – that there is a supernatural dimension to our existence. That there is a creator God who chooses to intervene in our affairs, working out his larger, loving purposes for our good.

Significantly, the Bible reveals a faith that is not grounded in rules, rituals and regulations, but rather in a relationship – a relationship with Jesus Christ. And because meaningful and lasting relationships can only be built on truth, we need to know the truth. Relationships within a marriage and family are only meaningful where there is truth and honesty. Without truth there can be no trust.

Now, it’s important to note that Jesus is not saying that his followers down through the ages are witnesses as were the original disciples. We can’t be. We weren’t there. But we are called upon to testify to the good news he brings.

Which brings us to another facet of the porosity of the universe. In Acts chapter 1, verse 9 we read: And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men in white robes stood by them and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Clearly Christ moved from the space and time dimensions that we know into another beyond our comprehension. It was the dawn of the age of God’s Messiah.

For the present God’s kingdom, the rule of the Messiah, remains hidden. In his Letter to the Colossians Paul the Apostle tells us that the new age of God’s rule co-exists with the old. But currently a door is open, allowing people to pass from the old age to the new. While we see around us the movement of human kingdoms and powers, God, in his mercy is rescuing people from all nations and races from the dominion of darkness, transferring us into the kingdom of the Son he loves… (Colossians 1:13).

We live in an uncertain and troubled world. We need to pray for the leaders of the nations and play our part in contributing to the welfare of people in need around us. Above all, let’s pray that God in his mercy will use the good examples of our lives and the testimony of our lips to draw many to the risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ. His physical resurrection and the angels’ words at his ascension, assure us that his return in supreme power and dazzling glory is certain.

A Prayer for Ascension Day. God our Father, make us joyful in the ascension of your Son Jesus Christ. May we follow him into the new creation, for his ascension is our glory and our hope. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Benediction. Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip us all with everything good that we may do his will, working in us what is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

© John G. Mason