Thursday, May 01, 2008

Blessed Feast of the Ascension

The feast of the Ascension has been one of my favorite church holy days for a long time. It celebrates all that great stuff from the Epistle to the Hebrews: Jesus is both man and God. Therefore, when Jesus goes back to heaven where he "sitteth on the right hand of the Father," man has actually been exalted to the heavens in Christ. This was the first time that a resurrected human body had gone to heaven. Even though Elijah had apparently been taken up living into heaven, he didn't have a glorified body. We aren't told what happened to his ordinary body, but presumably he has to wait for the resurrection of the dead along with the rest of us for his resurrection body. Jesus was, as Paul says in I Corinthians, "the firstfruits of them that sleep." He was the first one to be risen in a new body that will never die. So when he ascended into heaven, he took that glorified humanity back to the Father, where it had never been before. From there he intercedes for us, for as Hebrews says, he is a fitting high priest for us, having both offered himself for our sins and also being human as we are.

My impression is that Ascension did not always have an octave. Cranmer wrote his own collect for the Sunday after Ascension, basing it on a song that the Venerable Bede is supposed to have sung on his deathbed. Here are both collects for Ascension.

Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that like as we do believe thy only begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into the heavens; so we may also in heart and mind thither ascend, and with him continually dwell, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

O God, the King of glory, who hast exalted thine only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph unto thy kingdom in heaven; We beseech thee, leave us not comfortless; but send to us thine Holy Ghost to comfort us, and exalt us unto the same place whither our Saviour Christ is gone before, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

P.S. On a mundane note, and in case anyone else has this problem, I figured out how to turn on "sent items" in Yahoo mail. George was no help. The relevant thing to click is hidden over in mail options.

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