Festival of the Ascension of our Lord
Scripture: St. Mark 16:14-20 (NKJV)
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.
Our Lord did not leave us when He ascended into Heaven. At this event He reminded His Apostles, and the entire Church, that He would continue with them in the most profound way. He would be with us always through faith in the Gospel. Jesus Christ abides in us, and we in Him, by the Word of His death and resurrection for our forgiveness, by the indwelling of His Spirit with the Word in Baptism, and by the ongoing proclamation of His atoning sacrifice and victory over death in His holy Supper.
The ascension of our Lord is sometimes reduced to a mystical excuse for the unseen, spiritual nature of our Lord’s presence. However, an important point to be remembered about the ascension is that it is part of the testimony that we do not just cling to philosophical abstractions, but that our faith is based on real, physical events in history. Our God was truly made flesh and blood; He truly lived as a man in a particular place and time. He became a documented part of the human story, and His death and resurrection were significant events that affect man’s future. And because God lived and walked as a man for a time, He also needed to transcend the limitations of that particular place and time for the benefit of the whole world. Our Lord did not leave us at the ascension, He went up to a place of greater glory from which He would continue to bless mankind in profound ways!
We pray: Lord God, we give You thanks for Your Son Jesus Christ, and for all that He accomplished for our forgiveness and life. Keep us steadfast in the signs and manifest graces that He gives to us in His holy Word and Sacraments, even to the end of the age. In His Name. Amen.