The Festival of the Ascension of our Lord
The Lord be with you
Today is the Ascension of our Lord. This festival is often overlooked by the modern church and unknown by the unchurched. It occurs 40 days after Easter Sunday and so is always on a Thursday. I do not remember ever going to an Ascension Day service as I grew up. If Pastor Koenig wanted to do something about Ascension, he would move it to Easter 7 (I seem to recall him doing that). However the recognition of the Ascension of Our Lord and its importance seems to be on the rise. A growing number of LC-MS churches are now celebrating the festival on the Thursday it falls and there is good reason to recapture this festival.
Ascension Day is the coronation celebration of our Lord as He is proclaimed to be King of the universe. Jesus’ ascension to the Father is His entrance to the greater existence beyond the confines of time and space, being no longer bound by the limitations of His state of humiliation. Jesus now sits at the right hand of God, which Luther correctly taught is everywhere, having again taken up the power and authority that was His since before time. Yet our Lord is present with us who remain bound by time and space. He is with us as true God and true man, exercising His rule in the Church through the means of grace which He established: His Word and His Sacraments. We mortals, in those means of grace, can grasp the King of the universe and receive a foretaste of the feast to come.
There is really quite a bit about the Ascension of Jesus in both the Old and New Testaments. One key message from Ascension is that Jesus has more than enough power and authority to keep all his promises. As King of kings and Lord of lords, what he says goes. Behind such promises like “baptism now saves you” (1 Peter 3:21), “whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the Last Day” (John 6:54), etc., stands the Ascended Lord. He is more than capable of keeping his promises.
A Prayer for Ascension Day
Almighty God, as Your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, ascended into the heavens, so may we also ascend in heart and mind and continually dwell there with Him, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert