Yesterday was Ascension Day, the day the church marks the ascension of Jesus into heaven, 40 days after his resurrection (that’s why it always lands on a Thursday). Though it is a national holiday in some countries, for most of the Christian world, Ascension Day is undercelebrated. So, in honour of this special day, I simply encourage you to reflect on these two passages from Scripture.
So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”
He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”
– Acts 1.6-11, NLT
Come, everyone! Clap your hands!
Shout to God with joyful praise!
For the Lord Most High is awesome.
He is the great King of all the earth.
He subdues the nations before us,
putting our enemies beneath our feet.
He chose the Promised Land as our inheritance,
the proud possession of Jacob’s descendants, whom he loves.
God has ascended with a mighty shout.
The Lord has ascended with trumpets blaring.
Sing praises to God, sing praises;
sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King over all the earth.
Praise him with a psalm.
God reigns above the nations,
sitting on his holy throne.
The rulers of the world have gathered together
with the people of the God of Abraham.
For all the kings of the earth belong to God.
He is highly honored everywhere. – Psalm 47, NLT
One of my favourite Ascension Day choral anthems is based on Psalm 47. It was written by Gerald Finzi (apparently an agnostic Jew, himself). Enjoy it along with me here.
By the way, some of you have been praying for my mother, and I appreciate that. She died a week ago today, and her funeral took place yesterday – Ascension Day! My wife and I appreciate your prayers as we deal with both grief and administration and execution of her will. We are greatly comforted in knowing she now sees the Lord she served by faith face to face.