Thursday, May 17, 2012

Blessed Ascension

A blessed and glorious feast of the Ascension to all my readers, Catholic and Protestant alike. In fact, I have always said that the Feast of the Ascension is one of the most ecumenical of all the feasts in the liturgical year. Good low-church Protestants, such as Baptists, really know their Bibles and especially really know the book of Hebrews. Hebrews says that Jesus sat down at the right hand of God so many times that one can almost complete the line when it comes up again, like something in a routine--"and then he..." "I know," yells the audience, "He sat down."

But the point is completely serious: Jesus, our great High Priest, sacrificed himself for us on the cross, so that the sacrifices for sin in the Old Law are now complete and never need to be repeated. His work done, he was exalted on high and sat down. And now, at the throne of God, he intercedes for us.

The Apostle Paul was into the Ascension, when you come to think of it. I'm writing this post on the fly, so I'll let y'all look up the passages, which I'm also going to quote (mostly) from memory:

"Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name that is above every name..."

"When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive and gave gifts unto men...And he gave some apostles, some prophets...for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry."

"It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us."

And the collect today recalls "Set your affections on things above, not on things on this earth."
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.


Tim said...

Of course, the Resurrection involves a corollary, and I think it is largely this corollary the modern critics boggle at. It involves the Ascension. “Christ did truly rise again from death, and took again his body, with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection of man’s nature; wherewith he ascended into heaven.” Mr. Streeter says he knows of no living theologian who would maintain a physical Ascension in this crude form. I have no claim to be a theologian. I can only say that as a person of ordinary education I believe, as I hope for salvation, in this literal doctrine; I believe, that whatever change may have glorified the Risen Body when it passed beyond the cloud into a new mode or sphere of existence, the earth has ever since the Ascension been the lighter by so many pounds weight, and the sum of matter in the world the less by so many cubic inches of volume.

--Ronald Arbuthnott Knox, Some Loose Stones (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1914), pp. 84-85

Lydia McGrew said...

Great quote. I'd forgotten all about it.

The words of Mr. Streeter (whoever he may have been) remind me of some stuff from Bishop Spong and co. cited in the book I'm reading now about the Anglican African bishops. Evidently the liberals in the American Episcopal Church kept saying that the bishops just hadn't caught up with the teachings of recent theology. (Well, thank God for that!)