Thursday, May 10, 2018

Ascension Day

From the Book of Common Prayer:
Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Today marks the Feast of the Ascension in the Western Christian Calendar.  This 40th day after Easter, is when The Christ lighted off the Mount of Olives to take His place at the right hand of the Father.  Scripture records other Ascensions, notably that of the Prophet Elijah.  But unlike those other ascensions, this one would be accompanied by the witness of Angels as recorded by Saint Luke in his Acts of the Apostles:
"9 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. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." Acts 1:9-11 (ESV)
For the Apostles and the others, this moment was the capstone on a whirlwind 44 days and a period where they saw their Master institute a new commandment.  They saw Him arrested and die on a cruel Roman cross.  They witnessed His resurrection from the grave and along with 500 other witness, saw him repeatedly over the proceeding 40 days.  Now, on a mountaintop, they saw Him disappear from the physical realm and enter a realm outside of time and space.  They stood gobsmacked, trying to apprehend what they'd all witnessed.  Here in this moment two men, clearly Angelic, echoed the words of their Master and promised that the Christ who left their realm would someday return to it in the same dramatic fashion.

This day stands to remind us of some powerful truths.  It recalls the day when Jesus, having completed His mission to redeem fallen humanity, returned to his home realm and rightful position, seated as the Son of the Most High God.  Though Scripture doesn't explicitly state it, I suspect that all of Heaven erupted into a cry of triumphal joy.  But it doesn't end here.  There is, as the late Paul Harvey would say, a "rest of the story".

In a moment known only by the Godhead, Christ will once again rise from His throne and enter back into our sphere.  As the historic creeds remind us:
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.
I invite you to reflect today.

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