Ascension Day, May 5, commemorating Christ’s taking His place in the Godhead at the right hand of God the Father, is an important holiday. Because of His Ascension, Christ fills all things. Thus, He can be present in the Lord’s Supper; thus, He is present with His church; thus, He rules over all things. After the jump, read what St. Paul says about the Ascension and read two more striking essays on the holiday, including what Douglas Farrow says about the political implications (so to speak) of Christ’s ascension. [Read more…]
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Yesterday was Ascension Day, marking the resurrected Christ’s return to His Father. Pastor Reeder quotes the classic Bible scholar Paul E. Kretzmann on what the Ascension means:
“By His exaltation and ascension the Son of Man, also according to His human body, has entered into the full and unlimited use of His divine omnipresence. His gracious presence is therefore assured to His congregation on earth. He is now nearer to His believers than He was to His disciples in the days of His flesh.
He is now sitting at the right hand of His heavenly Father. As our Brother He has assumed the full use of the divine power and majesty. He reigns with omnipotence over all things, but especially also over His Church. God has put all things under His feet, and has given Him to be the Head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all, Eph. 1, 22. 23.
By His Word and Sacrament He gathers unto Himself a congregation and Church upon earth. He works in and with His servants; He governs in the midst of His enemies. He preserves and protects His Church against all the enmity of the hostile world and against the very portals of hell. And His intercession before His heavenly Father makes our salvation a certainty, Rom. 8, 34.”
Strangely, the Reformed use the Ascension as an argument against the presence of Christ in the sacrament. (“Jesus isn’t here any more. He’s in Heaven.”) But Lutherans use the Ascension as an argument for the Real Presence, since now the Son of God, having taken His place in the Godhead, is omnipresent.
That was yesterday. Sorry I missed it. Ascension Day marks an important event, but it is odd the way Protestants interpret it in two opposite ways. For the Reformed, that Christ ascended into Heaven means that this is where His body is, so it can’t be on the altars of churches celebrating Holy Communion. But Lutherans say that the taking up of the man Jesus into the Godhead makes the doctrine of the Real Presence possible, since now this flesh and blood human being shares the attributes of the Trinity, including omnipresence.
Today is Ascension Day, the 40th day after Easter, commemorating the day on which our Risen Lord ascended into Heaven and sits on the right hand of the Father Almighty.
It’s odd that the significance of Christ’s ascension is taken in two opposite ways: The Reformed say that it means Christ is ABSENT, no longer on earth, so that His real presence in the sacrament is impossible. Lutherans say that it means Christ, at the right hand of Power, His human nature assumed into the Holy Trinity, can now be omnipresent, so that He CAN be on every altar.
Ascension Day used to be a hugely important day in the church year. How can we bring it back?
Many Christians, including those from churches that haven’t usually done much with the church year other than Christmas and Easter, are discovering Advent. (See, for example, this piece from the evangelical radio program Breakpoint.)
After the jump is an excellent explanation of the season from the website of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.
The meaning of Advent has some specific content beyond just getting ready for Christmas. As the website says, the season–in the Bible readings and the devotions for the days–the season reflects on the “advent” or “coming” of Christ in three senses:
- In the past (the prophecies of Christ’s coming)
- In the future (Christ’s second coming)
- In the present (How Christ comes today)