Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal

The Ascension of the Lord

Volume 4 No. 221 May 29, 2014

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Ascension of the Lord
Ascension of the Lord
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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1. Bible Readings for This Week

Bible Readings For The Ascension of our Lord (May 29, 2014)

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Lectionary/Lec_ascension-Thursday.htm

Bible Readings For The Sunday before Pentecost (June 1, 2014)

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Lectionary/Lec_sunday-before-pentecost.htm

2. Sermons for This Week

Sermons For The Ascension of our Lord

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_Ascension.htm

Sermons For The Sunday before Pentecost

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_sunday-before-pentecost.htm

3. Inspiration for Today: The Ascension of the Lord

Christ's going to the Father is at once a source of sorrow, because it involves his absence; and of joy, because it involves his presence. And out of the doctrine of his Resurrection and Ascension, spring those Christian paradoxes, often spoken of in Scripture, that we are sorrowing, yet always rejoicing; "as having nothing, yet possessing all things" (2Cor 6,10). ...

4. Christ's Ascension Is Very Important

The ascension of Jesus was the climatic, crowning event of his exaltation, and the necessary precursor to his continuing work through the Spirit and the church.

In Acts 2, the Apostle Peter reflects on Jesus' resurrection and ascension in light of Psalm 16 and Psalm 110, and tells us that Jesus was exalted to "the right hand of God." When we trace this phrase through Acts we see three things that the ascended and enthroned Christ does for his church. ...

5. The Ascension of the Lord (The Exaltation of Jesus)

The ascension of our Lord Jesus is well attested in the New Testament. It describes Jesus' ascent upward into heaven after spending 40 days on the earth (John 20:17; Acts 1:3). The ascension is designed to provide an incentive to faith, courage, and a motivation to ministry. ...

The Ascension of the Lord into heaven is also known as the exaltation of Jesus. By the resurrection of the Lord, the humanity overcomes the death, and by the Ascension of the Lord, the humanity -through the body of our Lord- sat at the right hand of God the Father. The resurrection, in general, is for both: those who have done good, and those who have done evil. The Ascension: is only for those who are at the right hand side of God, which means those who have done good only (Matthew 25:33). ...

6. The Ascension of the Lord

Forty-two years ago, in the springtime of my monastic journey, my Father Master told me that of all the festivals of the Church Year none was more intrinsically contemplative than the Ascension of the Lord. He spoke to me of the virtue of hope, calling it the most monastic of virtues, and meditated with me on the Vespers hymn of the Ascension. ...

7. The Feast of the Ascension of our Lord: THE LORD IS DIFFERENTLY PRESENT

The Lord Jesus calls us to look beyond our grief, to look beyond the past, yes, to look beyond the life we used to have before the death of someone we love. He lifts our eyes to eternity - not just to reunion with those we love but to union with God Himself!

This life is not all that there is. Death is no longer the end of things that leaves us shattered and, like Humpty Dumpty, beyond repair. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Because Christ is risen and because the Holy Spirit has been sent, we can be filled with joy over a new and certain future that, unlike the past, goes on forever! ...

8. About Malankara World

This Week in Church
Bible Readings
Sermons
This Week's Features

Inspiration for Today: The Ascension of the Lord

by Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890)

"Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Mt 28,20)

Christ's going to the Father is at once a source of sorrow, because it involves his absence; and of joy, because it involves his presence. And out of the doctrine of his Resurrection and Ascension, spring those Christian paradoxes, often spoken of in Scripture, that we are sorrowing, yet always rejoicing; "as having nothing, yet possessing all things" (2Cor 6,10).

This, indeed, is our state at present; we have lost Christ and we have found him; we see him not, yet we discern him. We embrace his feet (Mt 28,9), yet he says, "Touch Me not" (Jn 20,17). How is this? it is thus: we have lost the sensible and conscious perception of him; we cannot look on him, hear him, converse with him, follow him from place to place; but we enjoy the spiritual, immaterial, inward, mental, real sight and possession of him; a possession more real and more present than that which the Apostles had in the days of his flesh, because it is spiritual, because it is invisible.

We know that the closer any object of this world comes to us, the less we can contemplate it and comprehend it. Christ has come so close to us in the Christian Church (if I may so speak), that we cannot gaze on him or discern him. He enters into us, he claims and takes possession of his purchased inheritance; he does not present himself to us, but he takes us to him. He makes us his members... We see him not, and know not of his presence, except by faith, because he is over us and within us. And thus we may at the same time lament because we are not conscious of his presence... and may rejoice because we know we do possess it... , according to the text, "Whom having not seen... you love; in whom, though now you see him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls" (1Pt 1,8-9).

Christ's Ascension Is Very Important

by Brian G. Hedges

The ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven is one of the most important events recorded in the New Testament. But though it occupies a vital place in Scripture, it doesn't get a lot of attention today, even among Christians. My guess is that you probably haven't read any books about it or heard many sermons on it. Usually we focus on the crucifixion and the resurrection. But the ascension is pivotal, especially in the writings of Luke.

Luke wrote a two-part history of the origins of Christianity. Volume one is the gospel that bears his name. Volume two is the book of Acts. And the ascension was so important for Luke, that he ended volume one with it (Luke 24:50-51), begins volume two by reporting it again (Acts 1:9-11), and then refers back to it several times in the book of Acts.

As Joel Green, a New Testament scholar who specializes in Luke's writings, comments, "Luke presents the exaltation (i.e. resurrection & ascension) as the salvific event."

Why is that?

For one thing, the ascension accounts for why the appearances of Jesus during the forty days following his resurrection ceased. The ascension also foreshadowed the final event in salvation history: Jesus' personal, physical, glorious return.

"Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11).

But there's more to it than that. For the ascension of Jesus was also the climatic, crowning event of his exaltation, and the necessary precursor to his continuing work through the Spirit and the church.

In Acts 2, the Apostle Peter reflects on Jesus' resurrection and ascension in light of Psalm 16 and Psalm 110, and tells us that Jesus was exalted to "the right hand of God." When we trace this phrase through Acts we see three things that the ascended and enthroned Christ does for his church.

1. The ascended and enthroned Christ pours out his Spirit on the church.

Jesus himself had told his disciples that it was good for him to go away, because only then would he send them another Helper, the Spirit of truth (John 16:7-16). And that's exactly what happened on the Day of Pentecost, ten days after Jesus' ascension. The Spirit descended on the church with power, inaugurating a new age in the history of salvation.

That's why Peter connects Jesus' exaltation and the outpouring of the Spirit in Acts 2:33:

Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.

2. The ascended and enthroned Christ applies the blessings of salvation.

Having accomplished redemption through his suffering on the cross, the risen and exalted Christ now applies the salvation he has won, by granting the gifts of repentance and forgiveness of sins.

As Peter says in Acts 5:31:

God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

3. The ascended and enthroned Christ cares for his suffering people as they bear witness to him.

We see this in Acts 7, when Stephen becomes the first martyr of the Christian church.

But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." (Acts 7:55-56)

All of this should give us great encouragement! When feel weak in ourselves, Luke reminds us that the exalted Christ has given us his Spirit, who equips us with the power, boldness, and courage we need to accomplish our mission.

When we feel cynical about evangelism and fear no one will respond to our message, Luke reminds us that the exalted Christ is the Leader and Savior who grants repentance and forgiveness of sins. He is the King who seeks and saves the lost. That means we don't have to manipulate and that we can be confident that some people will in fact respond.

And when we're paralyzed by fear at the thought of the risks entailed in taking Jesus to the hard to reach nations and neighborhoods of the world, and tremble when in contemplating potential rejection or persecution, Luke reminds us that the exalted Christ cares for his suffering people and stands to welcome them home.

About The Author:

Brian G. Hedges is the author of several books including Active Spirituality: Grace and Effort in the Christian Life. Brian and his wife Holly have four children and live in South Bend, Indiana.

References:

Joel B. Green, ‘Salvation to the End of the Earth' (Acts 13:47): God as Saviour in the Acts of the Apostles" in I. Howard Marshall & David Peterson, ed., Witness to the Gospel: The Theology of Acts (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998), p. 95.

Source: Christianity.com Daily Update

The Ascension of the Lord (The Exaltation of Jesus)

by HE Eugene Kaplan

The Nature of the Ascension

The ascension of our Lord Jesus is well attested in the New Testament. It describes Jesus' ascent upward into heaven after spending 40 days on the earth (John 20:17; Acts 1:3). The ascension is designed to provide an incentive to faith, courage, and a motivation to ministry.

For the purposes of our study, we are going to focus our attention on the account written by St. Luke in Acts 1:6-11.

First, we want to note the context in which the ascension occurred. This passage shows us there was concern and longing for the restoration of the kingdom of Israel, and so there was the question about when. The Lord tells His disciples this was all in the Father's sovereign plan and timing (vs. 7). In the meantime, they had the responsibility of representing the Lord to the world, a responsibility for which they would be adequately supplied by the power of the Holy Spirit once He had come to dwell in the church, the sacred body of Christ (vs. 8).

Immediately after this commission in verse 8, the ascension occurred. The Lord was lifted up by a cloud of glory out of their sight and taken into heaven. He was ascending to the right hand of the Father from whence He would send the Holy Spirit to empower them for ministry. There also He would sit to represent them providing access into God's presence.

Let's note the words used for Christ's departure and what they teach us in brief.

Verse 9a tells us "He was lifted up." This stresses that the ascension is upward and shows the Father was taking His Son up into heaven. The ascension was an act of exaltation and an affirmation of Christ's person.

Verse 9 tells us "a cloud received Him out of their sight." Literally The Greek word the cloud "took under Him." He appeared to be supported by the cloud.

This may have been like the cloud connected with the transfiguration, and which descended on the tabernacle in the wilderness and filled Solomon's temple. Many believe it was the shekinah (??????) cloud, a symbol of the glory of God. In other word, it was a supernatural cloud, a symbol of the glorification of the Son. He was resuming His pre-incarnate glory--the glory He had before the incarnation.

Verse 10 describes the ascent by the words, "while He was departing." This was a common word that meant to "go on a journey." This suggests to us the ascension was a journey, not merely a disappearance.

Verse 11 describes the ascent by the words, "This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven." This is probably best understood as the culmination or climax which describes His reception into heaven. It describes the final results of the ascension and declares the fact of Christ's arrival in heaven. By the testimony of two angels from heaven we are told He had reached His destination.

Everywhere we turn in the New Testament we find the Lord Jesus declared to be in heaven at the right hand of the Father in the place of glory, power, authority, and provision for us.

The Ascension of the Lord into heaven is also known as the exaltation of Jesus. By the resurrection of the Lord, the humanity overcomes the death, and by the Ascension of the Lord, the humanity -through the body of our Lord- sat at the right hand of God the Father. The resurrection in general is for both: those who have done good, and those who have done evil. The Ascension: is only for those who are at the right hand side of God, which means those who have done good only (Matthew 25:33).

Let us summarize the results of the bodily ascension of the Lord.

1) It ended Christ's humiliation and self-limitation (John 6:62; Phil. 2:5-11).

Even though the Lord still possessed a glorified human body, through the ascension, the Lord assumed all of His former glory and authority as God.

2) It ended His public ministry of words and works (John 17:4-11).

The ascension concluded His prophetic ministry and miracles accomplished by His bodily presence on earth. His prophetic ministry and miracles would continue for a while, but only through the lives and ministry of the Apostles (His Church).

3) It ended His redemptive work (Heb. 1:3; 10:12).

 The ascension declared His work on the cross was finished. It demonstrated that there was nothing more that could be done for our sin and that He and He alone had accomplished our redemption (Heb. 9:11-12).

4) It ended the Old Testament Covenant and declares the New Covenant to be better and in force (Heb. 8:7-13; 9:11-15, 23-10:1).

The ascension declared that the old Mosaic Covenant was no longer valid, that it was only a temporary covenant until the Messiah-Savior could come.

5) It affirmed Christ as the God-Man (John 6:62).

The ascension, like the resurrection, would prove His divine origin. By His ascension Jesus approved of His original Godhood.

6) It affirmed Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King.

a. As prophet: In John 3:13 our Lord shows Nicodemus He has the right and ability to explain and reveal heavenly truth because He is the true prophet, the One who came from heaven and Who, following His finished work on the cross, would return--the proof that He had truly come from God.

b. As priest: Jesus' ascension and return to the Father would demonstrate that He had successfully, as our great and righteous High Priest, offered the sacrifice that effectively deals with man's sin and provides justification--righteousness with God. (Heb. 8:1-2; 9:11-12; John 16:10)

c. As King: In answer to who He was, Christ again made reference to His ascended and exalted position at God's right hand, only now in connection with His second coming from that ascended and exalted position as King of kings. (Matt. 26:64.)

7) The Ascension of the Lord, affirmed His exaltation which means:

a. His Glorification: It meant a return to His pre-incarnate glory, but it also constituted a glorification of His humanity where He is the Forerunner of all believers who will follow. (John 17:5; Acts 7:55; Rev. 1:12-16)

b. His Session: It declared that He was in heaven, at God's right hand, the place of the highest honor and authority. It means all glory, authority and power is shared by the Father with the Son. (Eph.1:20-23; Phil. 2:9; Heb.1:3; 1 Pet. 3:22).

c. His Intercession and Protection over His own: It affirms His continuing ministry for us at God's right hand: kept by His presence with the Father and His work as High Priest. In this regard, it declares we have an advocate with the Father and a compassionate High Priest, one who cares for us with the greatest compassion and who both intercedes for us when we sin and prays to the Father for us in our need (John 17:11; Rom. 8:32; Heb. 4:14-16).

d. His Provision for spiritual power: It provided the means of His gift of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.

e. His Distribution: It affirmed His right to give gifts to His church (Eph. 4:7-11).

f. His Preparation: It affirms His promise to prepare a home for His bride, the Church. When we lose a loved one who knows the Lord, one of the great comforts is the fact that our loved one has actually gone home and that we will someday be joining them (John 14:3,4).

g. Commission: By His commission I am referring to His earthly ministry and that He intends to continue this through His church. (Matt. 28:19; Luke 24:44; John 12:32; 14:12; 17:11-23; Mark 16:19-20).

Reflection

Because of what the ascension means, it demands a response from us to the person and work of Christ. (John 6:62) We should not fail to understand the truth of Christ as the Bread of Life in Holy Communion, as the source of our spiritual nourishment and life through feeding on Him by faith and study His word. For the Lord challenged His audience (and challenges us) with these words: "What then if you should behold the Son of Man ascending where He was before?"

The ascension provides every reason why we should endure and be bold in service for the Lord knowing that our labor is never in vain in the Lord. (Mat. 28:19; Heb. 12:1,2).

The ascension anticipates the establishment of His kingdom and the fact that we will have the privilege of reigning with Him in His eternal kingdom of the new heavens and earth. (John 14:28; 16:16; Acts. 1:11; Ps. 110:1; Heb. 1:13; Rev. 5:1-11.)

Remember, that this same Jesus Who has gone up to heaven, will so come in like manner as He was seen going up into heaven. His return is certain, may the Lord bless you, and grant you a share in His ascension. Amen

Copyright 2010 Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch - Archdiocese of the Western United States

The Ascension of the Lord

by Fr. Mark

Forty-two years ago, in the springtime of my monastic journey, my Father Master - he must have been all of 34 at the time - told me that of all the festivals of the Church Year none was more intrinsically contemplative than the Ascension of the Lord. He spoke to me of the virtue of hope, calling it the most monastic of virtues, and meditated with me on the Vespers hymn of the Ascension, the incomparable Fourth Mode, Jesu, Nostra Redemptio. The melody is perfectly suited to the text. It has been, in some way, the musical accompaniment to my monastic journey with its sorrows and joys, with its valleys of darkness and glimmers of light. It expresses better than any other hymn the prayer of yearning by which, already here and now, a monk can hope to be united to his love and his desire. I translated the metred Latin text into prose.

O Jesus, our redemption,
our love, and our desire,
God, Creator of all things,
become Man in the fullness of time.

What tender love, what pity
compelled Thee to bear our crimes,
to suffer a cruel death
that we, from death, might be saved?

Into death’s dark cloister didst Thou descend,
and from it captives free didst bring;
Thy triumph won, Thou didst take Thy place,
Thou, the Victor, at the Father’s right.

'Twas a tender love, a costly compassion
that pressed Thee our sorrows to bear;
granting pardon, Thou didst raise us up
to fill us full with the splendour of Thy face.

Thou art already the joy of all our days,
Thou Who in eternity will be our prize;
let all our glory be in Thee,
forever, and always, and in the age to come.

Source: Vultus Christi. © 2013-2014 The Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle. All Rights Reserved.

The Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord

by Dr. Samuel Zumwalt

Gospel: Luke 24:44-53

44Then He said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." 45Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. 49And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." 50Then He led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up His hands He blessed them. 51While He blessed them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52And they worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53and were continually in the temple blessing God.

THE LORD IS DIFFERENTLY PRESENT

In the name of the Father, and of the +Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

We have had more than our share of grief experiences in our life together. For some of us, for family members and closest friends, that grief has taken new twists and turns as we have settled into what it means to live without those we love. Depression has grown deeper for some. Loneliness has intensified for some. The question "now what" has been on the lips of some. Grief does not go away. It changes.

How strange the Ascension Day texts sound in this context. As the Lord Jesus' closest friends and loved ones, the inner core of disciples had suffered emotionally over the death of Jesus. They were like any other relatives that got the word of a loved one's death. They were in the midst of the rituals surrounding a recent loss. And, then, a few saw Jesus again, and then a few more, and then a few more. Paul says in 1st Corinthians that the Lord appeared to over 500 hundred disciples.

But this wasn't one of those cases of mistaken identity where the names of the dead and the living were mixed up. This wasn't one of those cases of resuscitating someone whose heart and breathing had stopped. This wasn't even one of those cases of seeing some kind of ghost or apparition. No, the Lord Jesus appeared in His body that still showed the marks of the nails in His hands and feet. The Crucified Jesus had been raised from the dead on the third day! He was convincingly dead, and then Christ arose!

When we read St. Luke's chronology of events through the text of Acts chapter 1, we hear that the Crucified and Resurrected Lord Jesus appeared to His disciples over the course of forty days until the Ascension. The disciples got what any mourner today can only dream about. They got to see their dead loved one and friend again several times over the course of forty days after Easter Sunday.

The point was, of course, that Christ Jesus, God's Son, was truly victorious over death and grave. The point was, of course, that Christ Jesus, God's Son, was indeed victorious Lord over sin, death, and evil.

The point was not that Christ Jesus, God's Son, was going to stay around bodily or that those that loved Him were themselves not going someday to die physically.

As ones who are intimate with the dynamics of grief, we might well imagine that the disciples would go even deeper into their grief having seen the Lord Jesus off and on for about forty more days after His death and resurrection. We might well wonder why they didn't ask why He couldn't stay around bodily or why they couldn't go with Him. We might well expect the disciples to be paralyzed by their grief over the loss of Jesus. We might well expect those disciples to wonder if they were the butt of some mean cosmic joke. How could they see Jesus again and then have to lose Him again?

Instead St. Luke tells us that after the Ascension of our Lord, the disciples returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple blessing God (24:52-53).

I ask you: does that seem to be strange behavior from mourners? That despite knowing for certain they were never again going to see the Lord Jesus in His physical body, they could return to Jerusalem with great joy and be continually in the temple blessing God?

Or was it more the case that having seen the Crucified Jesus now as Risen Lord their minds had been opened in a profoundly new way to the eternal God? Indeed isn't that exactly what Luke is telling us when he writes: "Then Jesus opened their minds to understand the scriptures" (Luke 24:45)? The Lord Jesus showed them how to read the Bible through His death and resurrection. The Lord Jesus gave the disciples not only understanding but purpose when He says: "Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things" (24:46-48).

The Lord Jesus gave His dear ones the answer to the question "Now what?" They are to tell everyone that God's Son Jesus has suffered and died for the sins of the whole world. They are to tell everyone that God's Son Jesus has been raised from the dead, and they have actually seen Him. They are to tell everyone that God's Son Jesus offers the forgiveness of sins in His name and that everyone needs to repent, to believe, and to be baptized.

Having seen the Risen Lord Jesus several times over the course of forty days, you might expect that they were excited and joyful at first precisely because they had seen the Risen Jesus. You might also expect that after the newness of the joy wore off they would have lost energy and heart all over again. But for the promise of coming power! The disciples were going to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, the gift of power for their new mission, and so they were to wait in the city.

Of course, Luke tells us in Acts 2 that Pentecost came ten days later. We know that the Holy Spirit fell in a profound way upon the core of twelve that now included Judas' replacement Matthias. We know that because of the Spirit-filled preaching of the twelve the Church was born that day with 3,000 converts. The disciples did what they were sent to do. They preached the Hebrew Bible interpreting it through the death and resurrection of God's Son Jesus. They called people to repent, believe, and be baptized. They called people to receive the forgiveness of sins in the name of God's Son Jesus.

Because the Lord Jesus has commanded us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, show hospitality to the stranger, and visit the sick and imprisoned (see Matthew 25), it is an easy thing - a not very controversial thing - to do works of mercy and to contribute to worthy charities. That won't get anyone in to very much trouble in most places of the world.

The harder challenge which the Lord Jesus has set before us is to give our witness to His death and resurrection that all may repent and believe, that all may receive the forgiveness of sins and be baptized. It takes power to tell the Good News of Jesus Christ, and that power does not come from within us. It does not come from someone's own charisma or personality. The power for Christian witness comes from the Holy Spirit.

Those of us that have been weighed down with grief know how hard it is to find new purpose, when so much of how we defined ourselves is wrapped up with the life we used to have before the death of a loved one. To reframe one's life, to have a new vision for life seems impossible after someone we love has died. We love how it used to be!

The Lord Jesus calls us to look beyond our grief, to look beyond the past, yes, to look beyond the life we used to have before the death of someone we love. He lifts our eyes to eternity - not just to reunion with those we love but to union with God Himself!

This life is not all that there is. Death is no longer the end of things that leaves us shattered and, like Humpty Dumpty, beyond repair. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Because Christ is risen and because the Holy Spirit has been sent, we can be filled with joy over a new and certain future that, unlike the past, goes on forever!

The reason this space is not filled to overflowing even on a Thursday, the reason this space is not humming with intensity is that we have not waited for the Holy Spirit's power to move us beyond grief to witness. We have not been joyful and continually blessing God, because we have not believed that the Crucified Jesus truly has been raised.

The message of Ascension Day is that the Lord Jesus is differently present with His Church. He is present now in the bread and the wine of the Eucharist. He is present now in the Scriptures that are proclaimed in worship and that open us as we daily read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them. The Lord Jesus is differently present, but He is still calling us out of ourselves and out of the paralyzing grief rooted in the past. Yes, the Lord Jesus is calling us to be opened by the Holy Spirit and empowered to tell the whole world the Good News of the forgiveness of sins in Jesus' name.

Let us repent, dear sisters and brothers, of our unbelief and our unwillingness to look forward to eternal life with God. Let us repent, dear ones, of our joyless lives and our failure to wait for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

Long ago, God's Word given to the prophet Jeremiah lifted up the disobedient people of God that were grieving the loss of their past. God said: "For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile" (Jeremiah 29:11-14).

God has a future beyond grief for all of us. Paradise has been opened by the death and resurrection of God's Son Jesus. The repentant can know forgiveness in Jesus' name. The sad and weary can know the joy of continually blessing God.

Let us enter into a time of prayer for renewal, dear ones, prayer for ourselves, for our church, our community, and God's world. Let us pray that we may repent and believe in the Good News of Jesus Christ, that the burdens of unbelief and guilt may be lifted. Let us pray that we may know the joy of living in Christ's presence and the joy of witnessing to the plans God has for those that thank, praise, serve, and obey Him.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Source: Göttinger Predigten im Internet

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