A Word for Ascension Day

Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me. ‘Where are you going?’ Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

John 16.5-7

Today is Ascension Day, part of the liturgical calendar in many churches but because it falls on a Thursday – the timing based on the words of Scripture – it is all to easily overlooked when it should be very close to the centre of our thinking. Why do I say this? Let me give you two or three reasons.

1.Because Jesus has ascended into heaven (to him who sent him) we have an incredible gift, the Counsellor – the Holy Spirit – whom Jesus sent in fulfilment of that promise at that unique Feast of Pentecost (Acts 2).

No Ascension no Holy Spirit!

2.Because that same Holy Spirit ‘helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. Romans 8.26.

I wonder how often you have sought to pray and found, for whatever reason, words do not come. Don’t despair! The Holy Spirit, sent because Jesus ascended, ‘groans’ on your behalf!

No Ascension no such help in our moments of helplessness?

3.When Jesus ascended he sat down ‘at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven’ Hebrews 1.3. We are living in puzzling and troubling times. Where do we go when things overwhelm us? When we are brought face to face with power of a microscopic virus to snuff out life? Is there anywhere where we can find solace at such times. The author of  the Hebrews also writes this ‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame,  and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12.2. If you are a Christian then you are ‘in Christ’ and where is Christ? Seated at God’s right hand in heaven!

No Ascension no Christ preparing a place for you. John 14.2

Thank God for the Ascension today and revel in all that it means for you in this troubled world.

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