It’s ever so interesting how some special days become part of the celebrated church calendar and others not. Today, the Christian world celebrates Ascension Day – when we remember Jesus ascending into heaven. While, this day does not have the same popularity as Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, Good Friday, Shrove Tuesday or Ash Wednesday – I feel it ought to be a cause for celebration.
Here are my reasons:
Acts 1:6-11 (NLT):
6 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?” 7 He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. 8 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.” 9 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!”
- we received a gift: Jesus had finished his earthly ministry with a sense of unexpected turn-around. The ever-changing trajectory seemed to head towards failure at Golgotha but became the final triumph at the empty grave. He became one of us – God who moved in our neighbourhood – loving to the uttermost and inviting us to embrace salvation and sanctification. All done!
- we have a confidence: The Ascension marks Jesus’ return to the full place of authority at the right hand of the Father – and how we need that reassuring knowledge of His powerful divine involvement in our affairs. In a world that is breaking apart – He is still King. This is a timely truth and a comforting reassurance.
- we have a calling: His final words to an emotionally fearful question about His return – was a call to mission. When the disciples looked inwardly, He showed them an outward-looking perspective. The vision was outrageously inclusive and epic in scale. It was an invitation to continue what He had started (enabled by His authority and empowering).
PS – Maybe it’s a bargain basement Christian holiday because most of the other ones have become some hijacked by our consumer culture and became a comfortable shadow of their former selves. Maybe even more reason to celebrate an authentic Christian feast.
Hail the day that sees him rise
Hail the day that sees him rise, Alleluia!
to his throne above the skies; Alleluia!
Christ, the Lamb for sinners given, Alleluia!
enters now the highest heaven! Alleluia!
There for him high triumph waits; Alleluia!
lift your heads, eternal gates! Alleluia!
he hath conquered death and sin; Alleluia!
take the King of glory in! Alleluia!
Lo! the heaven its Lord receives, Alleluia!
yet he loves the earth he leaves; Alleluia!
though returning to his throne, Alleluia!
still he calls mankind his own. Alleluia!
See! he lifts his hands above; Alleluia!
See! he shows the prints of love: Alleluia!
Hark! his gracious lips bestow, Alleluia!
blessings on his Church below. Alleluia!
Still for us he intercedes, Alleluia!
his prevailing death he pleads, Alleluia!
near himself prepares our place, Alleluia!
he the first fruits of our race. Alleluia!
Lord, though parted from our sight, Alleluia!
far above the starry height, Alleluia!
grant our hearts may thither rise, Alleluia!
seeking thee above the skies. Alleluia!
There we shall with thee remain, Alleluia!
partners of thy eternal reign, Alleluia!
there thy face forever see, Alleluia!
find our heaven of heavens in thee, Alleluia!