19After the Lord Jesus had talked with them, he was taken up to heaven and sat at the right side of God. 20The disciples went and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and proved that their preaching was true by the miracles that were performed.
In April we went through the ups and downs of Holy Week and the Joy of Easter Sunday, in May we celebrate Ascension Day, 26th May 2022.
The Ascension of Jesus is found in the New Testament, it takes place after the resurrection, Jesus was taken up to Heaven in the presence of eleven of his apostles, occurring 40 days after the resurrection. In the biblical narrative, an angel tells the watching disciples that Jesus' second coming will take place in the same manner as his ascension. Both Luke and Mark's gospels gives us two brief descriptions of the ascension of Jesus, in Luke 24:50-53 and Mark 16:19. A more detailed account of the Ascension into the clouds is then given in the Acts of the Apostles (1:9-11).
The ascension of Jesus is professed in the Nicene Creed and in the Apostles' Creed. The ascension implies Jesus' humanity being taken into Heaven. The Feast of the Ascension, celebrated on the 40th day of Easter (always a Thursday), for many churches but not ours is one of the chief feasts of the Christian year. The feast dates back to at least the late 4th century,
The ascension is one of the five major milestones in the gospel narrative of the life of Jesus, the others being baptism, transfiguration, crucifixion, and resurrection.
It has been depicted in art work from the 6th century, and often ascension scenes were being depicted on domes of churches. Many ascension scenes have two parts, an upper (Heavenly) part and a lower (earthly) part. The ascending Jesus is often shown blessing with his right hand - directed towards the earthly group below him and signifying that he is blessing the entire Church.
In the Gospels of Mark and Luke the Ascension Story is seen as a time when the disciples are blessed, and in some ways ordained to go out and preach the good news to all. The return to Jerusalem after the Ascension ends the Gospel of Luke where it began: Jerusalem. The narrative of the Acts of the Apostles begins with the account of Jesus' appearances after his resurrection and his Ascension.
Whether we celebrate the Ascension or not we, as Christians, are always being called by Christ to preach the good news and he gives us different rolls within His Church. Are we ready to respond to His call?
Rev'd Robert Sheard
United Reformed Church Minister of Stowmarket, Debenham, Stowupland, Mendlesham & Haughley