Ascension of Our Lord
by Vicar Lisa
Tomorrow, is Thursday, May 18, 2023, this year known as the Ascension of Our Lord.
In Luke 24:49-52, Jesus tells his disciples: And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.
I would have thought that it was hard for the disciples to look upward towards heaven, watch Jesus ascend out of sight, and then leave with great joy. I would have expected dismay, sadness, or astonishment. But Jesus had done everything he could do to prepare them for this moment. Now, they, along with the Advocate they were soon to receive, were ready and equipped to do God’s work on earth.
We often cast our eyes upward to look for God. When we are feeling lonely or misunderstood, we raise our hands to ask why, or shake our fists in gestures of prayer, anguish, or praise, or joy. While the scriptures promise that God is king of all the earth, sitting on his holy throne (Psalm 47), we need not only look up for God’s action in our lives. Our ascended Lord lives in the heavens, but Jesus does not leave his disciples—or us—to fumble along on our own. Before he ascended, Jesus promised that we are clothed with the Holy Spirit’s power, witnesses “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
“Why do you stand looking up toward heaven?” the two men in white robes asked the witnesses remaining after Jesus ascended. Why do we stand still in our lives? This story of Jesus ascending to the heavens after his time on earth gives us mixed feelings: we know he’s returning to where he belongs—out of this world full of brokenness and sin to holiness and glory. Still, our longing is intense: Lord, we want to see you! Please Lord, come again soon!
Our E-Formation commentary for Ascension Day states that some might try to explain it as the cynical “I’m outta here” of a God weary of us self-centered, broken humans. But that explanation would be short-sighted because it leaves out that important stop on the cross. Instead, Jesus’ departure is accompanied with the promise of the Spirit’s presence remaining among us. We look up to the skies for help, then return our gaze to those among us in need of our care, to the body of Christ and the wind of the Spirit among the baptized, preparing for the time when Jesus comes again to gather us in.
Seventh Sunday of Easter, May 21
10 a.m. Worship with Holy Communion
Worship Leaders: Vicar Lisa Rygiel, Carol Smith, & Melodie Lanosga
Seventh Sunday of Easter, May 21, 2023
The second reading for this coming Sunday likens evil to a roaring lion. So come to worship and gather with Christ’s community to receive strength to survive your ordeals. God promises us protection: we already have eternal life in Christ.
What has been called the High Priestly Prayer of John 17 is divided between the three years of the lectionary on the Sunday after the Ascension. The church honors the glory of Christ’s crucifixion along with that of his exaltation, which is referred to in the other readings. Proclaiming John 17 after, rather than before, Holy Week and Easter exemplifies the technique of the lectionary in layering biblical meanings in the worship life of the church.
The ascension moves to the establishment of the church in Jerusalem. So our contemplation of Christ’s ascension leads us to the faithful devotion of the praying community.
1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11
This Sunday is the last in the semi-continuous reading of 1 Peter. At least in hearing about the sufferings of the church we hold before us all persecuted Christians around the world. The community of the baptized takes comfort in the mighty God who cares for us.
Zion's Lutheran Church