Happy Ascension Day! Luke 24:44-53 reads: (NRSV)
“Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’
Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.”
Today is the day when the Western church has traditionally celebrated the Ascension of Christ up to heaven. By coincidence, today is also the day that the Eastern church celebrates the Ascension of Christ! No, those dates do not always align! Here’s an article why the dates of Easter differ from an Eastern Orthodox perspective!
As we celebrate this Holy Day, here are a couple of things you might wish to think about as we celebrate:
- Not many modern churches celebrate the Ascension of Christ with large worship services. In particular, Protestant churches have tended to shy away from this celebration. As a result, do not expect to find Ascension Day cards at the grocery store. As a result, a good family activity might be drawing a picture of what it might have looked like and mailing it to a loved one.
- Despite not being regularly celebrated in Protestant churches, churches which follow the traditional liturgy of communion silently reference this event every time they celebrate communion. The liturgy refers to the resurrection in the eyes of many when it says “Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again.” In reality, Christ cannot come again without having ascended. Sidenote: All three parts of this great mystery have an unspoken component in my eyes. Christ was born before he died. Christ is risen and remains alive. Christ has ascended and Christ will come again.
- Ascension is an important part of the two major historical creeds of the church. The Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed both reference the Ascension. The poorly named Athanasian Creed also refers to the Ascension. Something about this event caused the early church to tie it into the most basic form of catechism within the church.
We hope you have a most blessed day and that you spend some time thinking about the Ascension of Jesus Christ! May God bless you on the journey through life today!