Rise to the Occasion (Ascension of the Lord)

Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorised and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you”. (Matthew 28: 16 – 19)

In the Christian story, the English author and scholar C. S. Lewis once wrote, “God descends to reascend”. With the exception of Jesus’ final return, Lewis’ words nicely bookend the big moments of Christ’s life: incarnation, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension, just as the Ascension itself sums up who Jesus was and is.

Even the readings this week talk about these major moments. The beginning of the Acts of the Apostles says “all that Jesus did and taught” would be the basis for the story to come of the early church. That’s a reminder that in hearing about the early Christian community we have to keep everything that happened before firmly in mind. Also in Acts, the resurrected Christ spoke of his central teaching, the kingdom of God, and promised the gift of his enduring presence in the Spirit. The Letter to the Ephesians talks about Jesus’ glorification and the access believers in him have to it. And the gospel tells of the command to Christ’s followers to go forth and make new members of his body. In the celebration of the Ascension of the Lord we have just about all we need to know.

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