I remember that after I was called as pastor to Ascension 9 years ago, I asked that my installation service be held on Ascension Day Evening. (Ascension Day is always on a Thursday, 40 days out from Easter, and 10 days before Pentecost Sunday.) The call committee did not think a Thursday evening worship would be well attended, so we went for a Sunday instead. This year’s Ascension Day falls on May 5. Vicar and I will be hosting the members of the Lutheran Pastor’s Cluster at Ascension on Ascension Day. We are planning a small worship service in the sanctuary, and then we will have some discussion about the meaning of Jesus’ ascension.
I have been taking people for Somali tea at the Global mall, and there the coffee shop manager knows me as the church leader from Ascension. Jesus’ ascension is familiar to Muslims. There is the Ascension mosque on the Mount of Olives, and Christians are allowed to worship in the mosque one day a year – yes, on Ascension Day. We will celebrate the Feast Day on Ascension Sunday, May 8th The readings that day include the Ascension story told both in Luke and Acts. I think Ascension is a great name for a Christian community – and not only because A comes early on in the White Pages if you are looking for a church. I joke that to other pastors that Ascension is on the way up. We also sometimes use the term ‘ascended’ when people pass to glory.
Jesus leads the way through his ascending into the future, into the forever of that new space and time we call heaven. Jesus’ ascension also means that he is not physically located just in one part of the earth, but through the Holy Spirit he is present through the whole world and universe. That means that Jesus is really present when we gather at Ascension, in worship, in fellowship, in teaching, in the serving, and that Jesus is present wherever people are and go.
God’s compassion is everywhere, including the very dark and hard places. I like it that Ascension means that Jesus ascends to be Lord over all. It might not seem that he is always Lord of all. Sometimes we are overcome by our challenges, by our woundedness, by the troubles of the world around us. We may wish that Jesus would take a more direct hand in world affairs. I wish that he would clean up heroin highway (161) and restore the people caught in the heroin web, and all other addictions for that matter. Then again, Jesus is present with those working to restore life and health.
Thanks to Senator Jim Hughes from Ascension for his leadership to help reduce human trafficking. Thanks to all who are working for life. Our Ascension is a place for ‘being lifted up,’ a place of healing. I really appreciate Vicar Dale naming many aspects of our woundedness in his preaching. I appreciate our emphasis on prayer, and on Holy Communion as a healing meal.
I appreciate all the healing groups that gather at Ascension. Just last week a participant in a 12-step group thanked me, thanked us profusely for opening our church to give their group a safe place to meet. Happy Ascension Everyone. Celebrate on May 5th and 8th.
Celebrate Ascension all year.
- Pastor Tim