From the Rev. Simon Justice, rector of Church of the Good Samaritan, Corvallis
Today is a major Feast Day in the life of the Church, Ascension Day. The account of Jesus’ ascension into heaven is recorded in both of Luke the Evangelist’s works – the Gospel According to Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. It is interesting that the other three Gospels do not mention the Ascension, neither does Paul nor any of the other writers in the New Testament. So what’s Luke’s point? Two things, at least:
First, by ascending bodily into heaven, back into the full Presence of God, Abba, the Father, Jesus takes his humanity with him. In other words, Jesus takes what it is and what it means to be human into the very Presence of God. Jesus takes what we are right into heaven itself. Heaven and earth are now truly one.
Second, the Ascension underlines the fact that Jesus is physically gone. His Spirit is with us, always, but Jesus is no longer present with us in a physical sense. This means that the ministry he began is now in the hands of the Apostles – quite literally – and by extension us! We are now the hands, the feet, the voice and the presence of Jesus in the world. We are it! Jesus will always be with us, through the Holy Spirit, but the work, the ministry is now ours. Jesus shares it all with us. What a privilege, what a joy!