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May 12, 2024 - Rev. Dr. Jan Remer-Osborn

The Ascension of Christ has lost its luster in our country and many Christian denominations. It is glossed over and seems to have disappeared into the woodwork. Or its thought of as a metaphor, a symbolic occurrence.  Not real.  It’s too just out there.  So let’s just skip it.   Too challenging, complicated, or hard to understand, in today’s world. Did you know that Ascension Day is a public holiday in much of Europe?  No school, no work. Then we’d remember.

A little history. Did you know that Ascension Day was one of the very first holy days to be commemorated in the early Christian communities, centuries before Christmas became a major festival in the 9th century? In the 4th century, St. Augustine preaches about this:

Today our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven; let our hearts ascend with him. Listen to the words of the Apostle [Paul]: If you have risen with Christ, set your hearts on the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God; seek the things that are above, not the things that are on earth. For just as he remained with us even after his ascension, so we too are already in heaven with him, even though what is promised us has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies.

Jesus in leaving the earth has become sovereign with God, ruling with God.  He can be everywhere, not just in one place as in earth.  He can intercede directly with God, as he is a part of him.  “I am in the Father, and he is in me.” Without this Ascension, how would Jesus be part of us today, like he promised he would be?

This is the take home message for us.  This day recalls Jesus handing over his mission to his followers and that includes us.  Over against the love of power, the ascension of Jesus establishes the power of love. Love overcomes our fear, and we can be our best selves through Jesus Christ as his love flows through us and out of us.

This is a vital part of what it means to follow Jesus. The power of that love replaces the love of power, so prevalent in our world.  It would be wonderful to see what we pray for so often, “God’s kingdom comes, and God’s will is done, on earth as it is in heaven”. Will we see this work completed? Maybe.  But for certain, if we actively follow Jesus we will bring God’s kingdom on earth, ever closer. Thanks be to God. Amen

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