Then 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, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, "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 nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high." Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.
Today is Ascension Day. As such I thought I might ponder something ascension-ey. Reformed Church folk, in my limited experience, don’t do a whole lot with Ascension Day. We certainly believe and think stuff ascension related; it’s part of our theology. It’s in our creeds and may be incorporated into our worship language. But otherwise, we don’t do much with it.
That is why in the local church setting I have appreciated working with neighboring congregations. For the last couple of years the good people of Trinity Lutheran Church in Middle Village, Queens have welcomed the good people of Trinity Reformed to worship with them. And this year, I had the opportunity to not only preach but also preside at the Lord’s Supper. To be fair, I’m not sure that the Lutherans necessarily do anything more with Ascension Day than the Reformed do, other than joining to worship on this day. Also to eat following the service. But when we officially meet to eat, then that’s definitely meaningful and significant. Although, it was only goulash and noodles, so again, maybe not that meaningful. In any event, I’m wondering today, what if any are some of the Ascension Day practices you and your congregation employ?
Celebrating the sacrament in a Lutheran setting on Ascension Day gave me much opportunity to compare and contrast differing perspectives on communion and how we understand the body of Christ and his “location.” I think today in particular, however, I was also aware of my own body, leading a congregation in worship that was predominantly not my own, in a setting that was not my home, and with a liturgy and ritual that I was not familiar with. To top it off, I’m dealing with a head cold and my body feels and sounds different. Thus, it was a gentle reminder that earlier today a Jesuit friend posted on Facebook the importance of the body to this day, that Christ ascended bodily.
The Ascension, by Salvador Dali