Today is Ascension Thursday. There will be few who will remember it, sadly. I personally believe that this Day is one of the most glorious in the Church calendar. Our Savior not only lived a life we could not live, and died a death that should have been ours, and rose again from the dead, a seal of God on the divinity of Christ if there ever was any doubt, and a first fruits of all of us who will fall asleep in the Lord ourselves (1 Corinthians 15.20); but also Christ ascended. His ascension into the heavens was witnessed by men and angels (Acts 1.9). His ascension into heaven marked the triumph of His mission on earth, to come and die for our sins, and to secure a righteousness of His people that we could not secure ourselves. The One who created all things, and for whom all things were created (Colossians 1.16-17), sat down at the right hand of His Father (Hebrews 1.3, 10.12). In our language, in the language of kings, Jesus Christ was crowned in heaven on that day. This was the holy coronation of our Lord Jesus Christ. To think that this very day (and this very moment as you read these words and contemplate this vision), our Head, our Savior, our Lord, is present in heaven, with a real body, a resurrected body but also let us remember, a human body that was dead and is now alive forevermore, is the news of cosmic history and makes this day a day of unsurpassed festivity! He is alive and He is reigning with the power of the Almighty over all creation. He will come again. And what a glorious day that shall be. For some of us, we shall see Him in His glory before that day, as we are called home to heaven, to wait in glorious splendor for the end of all things and for His great cataclysmic climactic return, judgment of men and angels, and the devil, and His gathering of His children, and His Word which will establish a new heaven and a new earth. Then shall Christ hand over the kingdom to the Father that God might become all in all (1 Corinthians 15.28). What glory! What grand images and ethereal thoughts to now possess the human mind! But for now, for now my beloved, we live within the boundaries of time and space, to follow Him, to fulfil His commandments and to be His people in the world. And one way to do that today is to stir up our faith and love (Hebrews 10.24) as we remember what we learned as little children,
He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
May I commend to you the Collect and Scripture for Ascension Thursday from the Book of Common Prayer for our devotions on this day? Be filled with the Spirit and read and let your reading lead you into the unsearchable riches of Christ in prayer and praise.
The Book of Common Prayer
GRANT, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that like as we do believe thy only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into the heavens; so we may also in heart and mind thither ascend, and with him continually dwell, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
For the Epistle. Acts 1. 1.
THE former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.