The Feast of the Ascension (2008)

Two ideas that i have been pondering about the Ascension.

1}     Reflecting on the Feast of the Ascension this past week, brought this to my mind:

In the incarnation, God came to earth as a human, in the ascension, the human goes to heaven as God.

I found today a quote with a similar idea from St. Thalassios the Libyan  (early 7th Century):  “There is a new wonder in heaven and on earth: God is on earth and man is in heaven.”


2}   Acts 1:6-11 (RSV):   “So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”  He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority.  But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.”

 What the disciples are asking in vs. 6 is “is this the end of the world?’  They are hopeful that the Kingdom of Heaven will now come to save them out of and from this world.    They are looking forward to being delivered from suffering, sighing, tears, struggles, oppression, failures, sins, betrayals, denials, mistakes, and discouragement.  They are saved!

Christ however, has a different plan.   He tells the disciples (and us!) that the time of the world’s ending is not ours to know.  He is saying, “You still have work to do in this world.” (“Groan!” say the apostles).   “You are going to be witnesses to my life, death and resurrection!  Witnesses!   You are going to have to tell people about me, and what happened to me.  You have a lot of work to do in this world, so get ideas of heaven out of your heads, and forget about sitting at my right and left hand in glory.  You have a lot of work to do – the whole world is in need of your message – so get to work!”   Jesus is leaving this earth behind, but He intentionally also left His disciples behind on this earth to carry out the mission which He had begun with His death and resurrection.   If we really believe in the kingdom, then now is not the time for rest, for escaping from  the problems of this world, to sit back and enjoy victory in the Kingdom.   Now is the time for those who are His disciples to take up the cross and do the work of God in this world – to struggle,  to risk success and failure, to love, to deny oneself, witness to one’s belief in Christ,  to repent and to forgive.