"Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands,
a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself,
now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. "
Forty days following Easter Sunday the Church celebrates the Day of the Ascension. Yesterday, we marked this great festival day with a Eucharist at St. Mary of the Hills. On Sunday, our hymns continue to celebrate themes of the Ascension as we anticipate next Sunday’s festival of Pentecost and the giving of the Holy Spirit.
Why is the Ascension such an important day in the life of our faith?
The great twentieth century theologian, Karl Barth, reminds us that there is only one present-tense clause in our baptismal affirmation, the Apostles’ Creed.
“He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.”
Everything else within the creed either looks back on the historic events of Jesus of Nazareth or looks forward to the in-breaking of his perfect kingdom; but, in this one clause connected to the Ascension, we acknowledge a present reality – Jesus is seated at the right hand of God.
In this essential affirmation, we are reminded that Christ’s promise to be with us to end of the age is fulfilled. We have not been abandoned; we have not been forgotten by God. To the contrary, in the mystery of Christ’s Ascension, we remember that our Lord Jesus is, even now, naming before God our intentions of praise and thanksgiving, desire and petition.
During these days of ‘Ascensiontide’, as we continue to rejoice in the glory of the resurrection, let us hold fast to the great promise we proclaim in these days – we are being remembered, named before God, by the Christ whose tender love for all creation abides with us still.
Alleluia. Christ the Lord has ascended into heaven:
Come let us adore him. Alleluia.