Note to readers: Liturgical entries on this blog are based on the traditional calendar of the Books of Common Prayer and the traditional one-year Eucharistic lectionary. If you follow a newer calendar or three-year lectionary, there are variations in names for some Sundays and in the readings.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Ascension Day

Thursday May 25 was the fortieth day after Easter, the commemoration of Christ's Ascension. Because it falls on a weekday, modern Christians have often ignored this ancient and biblically based observance. However, the Ascension of our Lord is a teaching of Scripture and the ancient creeds, and if we pause to consider, it has deep meanings for us as believers.

Let us consider three meanings of the Ascension. 1) The Ascension marks Jesus' return to His heavenly Father and the completion of the earthly ministry He began at the Incarnation. Although God the Son, the eternal Word of God, was at work before and has been at work since, those thirty odd years were unique in human history and in God's work for human salvation. The Ascension marks a glorious completion of Christ's earthly ministry. 2) As Christ tells His followers more than once in the Gospel according to St. John, His return to the Father also prepares the way for a new and powerful working of God the Holy Spirit among human beings. As long as Jesus was physically present on earth, the disciples would tend to be localized in Palestine. His return to heaven and the new descent of the Holy Spirit means that the Chrisian mission can become universal. 3) Christ's return to the heavenly Father means that His followers everywhere have a heavenly mediator and intercessor at the right hand of the Father. Our Lord watches over us in all places and times and intercedes for our well-being and eternal salvation. So His Ascension is a strengthening reminder of all that He has done and is doing to pour His grace into our lives.

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