The Ascension and Present Advocacy of Christ: The Gospel of the Great Fifty Days

I am so excited to finally reach the celebration of Christ's ascension to heaven. Unfortunately my zeal is not often shared or understood by others! 

An excerpt from a prominent worship journal captures the silence of this festival all too well. Even the title, "The Descent of Ascension Day" says a lot!

"We celebrate on a weekday that Jesus became a baby. We celebrate that Jesus died and rose again. But that Jesus ascended to heaven and became Lord of the whole universe and poured out his good gifts, including his everlasting-life-giving Spirit, on all believers—those things can no longer incite us to exchange our channel changers and garden tools for hymn books. Only a handful of believers still trickle into church to appropriately dignify Christ's coronation. What's happened?"

Contrast this with a quote from Augustine centuries ago. Speaking of the celebration of the Ascension he writes:

"This is that festival which confirms the grace of all the festivals together, without which the profitableness of every festival would have perished. For unless the Savior had ascended into heaven, His Nativity would have come to nothing… His Passion would have borne no fruit for us, and His most holy Resurrection would have been useless.”

What's happened indeed!? I'm not going to engage with many of the reasons why I feel the Ascension goes by so quietly in the Christian year, but I do believe it can once again begin to stir our hearts, minds, and imaginations. I believe we can begin to experience the present ministry, advocacy, and intercession of Christ more and more deeply in our personal lives on a day-to-day basis. 

For this week I'm letting the Scriptures speak for themselves, and thus including of variety of lectionary readings. I'm closing with a simple prayer of renewal and song for reflection. The painting is by Pietro Perugino (1446-1523), an artist during the Italian Renaissance. 

ASCENSION OF THE LORD
REVISED COMMON LECTIONARY
ACTS 1:1-11 / EPHESIANS 1:15-23 / JOHN 17:6-19

ACTS 1:1-11

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. 

During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.

Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

The Ascension of Jesus

So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”

He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. 10 As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”

EPHESIANS 1:15-23

Paul’s Prayer for Spiritual Wisdom

15 Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, 16 I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, 17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. 18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.

19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 21 Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. 22 God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23 And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

JOHN 17:6-19

The Prayer of Jesus

“I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me.

“My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. 10 All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory. 11 Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are. 12 During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.

13 “Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. 14 I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do. 17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.

PRAYER OF RENEWAL

Most High God,
we are witnesses
to the life of Jesus Christ:
written in the Law,
promised by the prophets,
sung by the psalmists;
given in love for the world,
risen from the dust of death,
lifted up in heavenly glory.
Let our lives proclaim Christ's life.
Wrap us in your power and presence
so that we may worship you always,
continually blessing your name;
through Jesus Christ our Savior,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

SONG FOR REFLECTION

Comments

Jason Palacio said…
Is it possible to get a copy of the music for the song Right Hand of the Father?

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