Jesus is Lord – This, of course, is the great truth that Christians celebrate in the Ascension. Jesus is exalted as the Lord of the cosmos, supreme over all the powers. It is perhaps significant that this is virtually the only Christian festival that has no pagan analogue, and which has not been taken over by the pagan materialistic forces that wreak havoc with Christmas and Easter. The shops do not fill up with Ascension presents, nor can you buy cards saying ‘”Happy Ascension to my Dear Granny.” Perhaps (although it would be risky) Christians should begin to celebrate the Ascension more explicitly. Presents or cards might be exchanged, but preferably homemade and symbolic ones, not ones that merely reinforced the prevailing materialism. There is room for new family festivals to be created around this season, parallel with Christmas or Easter celebrations but taking care, again, to avoid collapsing back into paganism. Here is scope for imagination and experiment.
It is Jesus’ Ascension, in particular, that launches the church on its mission. When the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom of Israel?” (Acts 1:6), it is commonly assumed that Jesus’ answer meant ‘No.’ What he was saying, “It is not for you to know times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witness…to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:7-8), compare Mt. 28:16-20). In fact, I suggest that this answer was a redefined you. In sending his disciples out (they were careful, at once, to restore their number to the symbolic twelve), Jesus was restoring the kingdom to Israel: but it was Israel as redefined by his death and resurrection. The Ascension launches the church, not on a nationalist or triumphalist mission, but on the task of announcing and inaugurating the sovereign rule of Jesus in the whole world. (N.T. Wright, Bringing the Church to the World, 194-195)
|"The Ascension" - Alexander Sadoyan|