Festival of the Ascension of our Lord
Scripture: St. Mark 16:14-20 (NKJV)
16:14 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
19 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.
The Ascension of our Lord to the right hand of the Father does not in any way indicate that our Lord is somehow absent from His Church. As St. Mark records concerning the ministry of the apostles: “And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.” The Lord is never absent when His Word is taught in its truth and purity and His Sacraments are administered according to His institution. Because the Lord continues to be present with His Church, St. Luke explains that all that was written in his Gospel was an account of what “Jesus began both to do and teach” (Acts 1:1)—that which is written in Acts concerning the ministry of the apostles is a continuation of what the Lord is doing and teaching in His Church.
The Lord has ascended and abides with His Church. The right hand of God is everywhere; therefore, the Lord being present at the right hand of God means that He is everywhere. And He has assured us that we graciously receive Him where He has promised we will always find Him: in His Word and Sacrament.
We pray: Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that like as we do believe Thine only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to have ascended into the heavens, so may we also in heart and mind thither ascend and with Him continually dwell; who lives and reigns with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.