One of the great feast days of the Church.
But what’s it all about?
I remember at theological college celebrating ascension day by processing out of chapel and having 3 rockets set off.
I must admit it felt a bit naff. A bit confusing. A bit like a poor man’s festival.
Yet its one of the great feast days of the Church.
I noticed on twitter this morning a clergyman going off for the day fishing.
Then you read the account.
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 (Luke 24:50-52)
Yet the Ascension is one of the great feast days of the Church.
They lose their Teacher and Rabbi and have yet to receive anyone in His place and yet they return with great joy.
And did He really “go up” to heaven as if heaven is above us?
There is so much more happening in the Ascension than the picture painted in Luke. In the Ascension we see the final consummation of humanity into the God-head.
Jesus takes humanity, our frail broken humanity, and takes it with Him. He does not throw it away. Certainly, its a transformed humanity, but humanity it still is. This is vital in our understanding. No longer is God totally remote and alien. Rather now humanity is raised. Now humanity is made divine.
This bringing of humanity into the Godhead shows that matter matters to God. It is not merely made spiritual. It is not the old docetic heresy that says that matter doesn’t matter that the Spirit of Jesus leaves matter behind.
Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Father intervenes for us. Jesus, no longer constrained, is present to everyone who seeks Him everywhere.It means that at our lowest ebb when we believe that we have been forgotten and left by God that we can know that this is not true.
The disciples glimpsed some of this. They were rejoicing because Jesus was alive – more fully than they had ever realised. He promises them yet more of Himself poured out through the power of the Spirit.
The Ascension is the culmination of His incarnation. The Ascension is the day we celebrate humanity’s welcome into the very heart of God. The Ascension is the day that we recognise not only His first going but we look forward to His coming again.
Yet we look forward in a few days to the day of Pentecost and the outpouring of the Spirit and the launch of the Church. But this could not have happened without the Ascension.
The Ascension a poor man’s festival overlooked by many but one of the great feast days of the Church.