|Happy Ascension Day!|
Today the Church celebrates Ascension Day. In our worship we remember that Christ ascended into heaven. This is good news for us because Christ not only dwelt among us here on earth and destroyed death, but he also reigns at the right hand of God in glory everlasting.
This morning, one of my priest buddies said, “Now that’s one rapture to proclaim!” Rapture is the fundamentalist idea that souls and bodies will fly up to heaven at some appointed day in the future. Biblically, our fundamentalist friends are so close, yet so far off, because they are missing one important step: Good Friday and Easter.
Jesus didn’t walk around on the earth as if everything was hunky-dory, perform some cool miracles, and then fly off to heaven on some random day. Jesus did walk on earth and did some super-awesome miracles, but he also died. God died on Good Friday. And then God rose again on Easter.
And this is our life in God. We walk around on this earth, doing some good things, doing some bad things. And then we die. Yes, we all die. But we also live again in Jesus Christ. The tombs, the graves, the coffins that try to hold death are powerless. Only after death and resurrection are we brought into heaven with God. This is the final step in God’s grand story of our redemption. The good news of Jesus Christ doesn’t stop on Easter Day – we continue on to Ascension Day as we celebrate that we too will one day be glorified, we will be remade like God in glory everlasting.
Christ, taking flesh, and dwelling among men, declares that Heaven has stooped to earth. But here a great many would stop, they would bring back Paganism through Christianity. The Son of God, they say, has become incarnate; now fleshly things are again divine; earth is overshadowed by Heaven; it is no longer sin to worship that which He has glorified. In the manger of Bethlehem they sink the Resurrection and Ascension: they will only look at one part of the great Redemption, not at the whole of it; at the condescension to our vileness, not at the deliverance from that vileness, which the Son accomplished when he sat down at the right hand of the Father. – F.D. Maurice