Ascension Day 3
Christ Pantocrator by Florentinischer Meister circa 1300; source wikicommons.
Raised Up With Christ
♱ Opening Sentence
For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.
♱ Opening Meditation
"Ascension" is symbolic language rather than geographic language. It means that Jesus the Human One, in his resurrected body, has moved into heaven, where he rules the cosmos as Lord.
The ascension of Jesus ALSO means that we, as his Body, are radically, organically, mystically connected to him right now. Jesus has ascended to fill all things, AND he abides with his Church, all the way to the consummation of the age. This is the present tense of the gospel, as we proclaim in the Apostles Creed: "He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father..."
Jesus has taken all our suffering and pain and trauma right into the presence of God in his flesh, to be healed and redeemed, and he communicates God's presence and power to us now through the Spirit, and through us to the world.
This is the most astonishing news. Learning to "act as if it's true" is the lifelong task of the disciple of Jesus, and I don't think I'll ever get tired of proclaiming this and learning to trust it. What glory we participate in as members of Christ's body!
I pray the eyes of our hearts would be enlightened that we would be able to truly see and know and experience God's presence and power flowing into us every moment. Even now! Maybe take a few deep breaths right now and touch base with this Reality.
♱ Scripture Reading
But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
What word or phrase stood out to you as you read this passage? Pause for reflection.
Allow this phrase to come alive in your imagination: Christ "raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ." Sit with the image for a few minutes, asking God to reveal his grace and kindness.
♱ Contemplate with Art:
Look at the art above. Pause at the first thing that catches your eye. Stay there for a moment and ask what it is that draws you to this place?
Continue around the image in the same manner, pausing to gaze at each place that catches your eye.
Now sit back and look at the painting as a whole. What, if anything, do you see that you didn’t notice before?
This image connects Christ's throne with the Final Judgment when the judgement of all evil, deceit and injustice will be entrusted to the Son. (John 5:22). The Ascension reminds us that we do not have to wait for the Day of Judgement to bring suffering and pain before the throne of God.
"Jesus has taken all our suffering and pain and trauma right into the presence of God in his flesh, to be healed and redeemed." What is your gut response to this good news?
Read the passage again. With awareness the Christ has raised us up with him in the heavenly places, what petitions, suffering, pain and trauma do you want to bring before Christ the King today?
Ben reminds us that the Ascended Christ communicates God's presence and power to us now through the Spirit, and through us to the world. How might your life look differently if you were to "act like this is true?" Ask God to help you listen and respond to his presence and power in your life.
Grant, we pray, Almighty God,
that as we believe your only-begotten
Son our Lord Jesus Christ
to have ascended into heaven,
so we may also in heart and mind there ascend,
and with him continually dwell;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer Collect for Ascension Sunday