Dear Friends in Christ,
This year, Ascension Day is on May 10th. It’s a Thursday. Ascension always falls on a Thursday, because it falls 40 days after Easter Sunday. 40 days after Christ’s resurrection, He ascended to the right hand of the Father. In this case, the timing of the liturgical year is simply following historical fact.
Ascension is one of the forgotten days of the liturgical year. This is probably because it is a fixed-day Festival and, as mentioned above, always falls on a Thursday. In our lives, any church service apart from Sunday tends to be overlooked. After all, we have many other time commitments every week. Let’s be honest, even Sunday-morning Divine Service is becoming less and less a priority, even for many Christians! (I hope to write to you about this later in the year in a pastoral letter.)
So it’s easy for Ascension to be overlooked. This is too bad, because it commemorates a very important part of Christ’s life and work in redeeming us from sin. Jesus Himself teaches that part of the Son of Man’s (that’s one of the Scriptural names for the Messiah) work is to be seated at the Father’s right hand (Luke 22:69). All over the New Testament are references to Christ’s ascension and His being at the Father’s right hand:
But [Steven], 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)
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (Romans 8:34)
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1)
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…(Hebrews 1:3)
…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
Do you see how even in this brief review Scripture teaches us the importance of Jesus having ascended into heaven? He has taken our humanity into the presence of God! As a result of this part of His work of dying for our sins and being raised for our justification, we have hope of dwelling in God’s presence for eternity!
So Ascension Day is an important partner with Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, and all the other Feasts of Christ (white parament days) in the liturgical year; in fact, it’s an important partner with every Lord’s Day, the Day of Resurrection (Sunday). I hope you’ll come on Thursday, May 10th, to hear the Scriptures, listen to the preaching, and receive the Sacrament. Divine Service is at 7 p.m., and there is a meal served beforehand at 6 p.m.,so you don’t need to worry about supper!
God bless and keep you,