Disciples, Apostles, and Saints!
Every year I remind people of the Ascension, that this is a principal feast of the church, and an essential part of our theological conviction. I point out the places throughout the liturgy in which we affirm that Jesus “ascended into heaven.”
And still, it feels like a losing battle. The afterthought. The necessity. A way of tying up loose ends. We don’t make special plans to attend church, usually. We don’t give gifts or get the day off of work. Nor do we define our theological convictions around this. People talk about being cleansed by the blood of the cross and freed by the risen Christ. They don’t usually say “I’m inspired by the ascended Jesus.”
But I think this is all so reductive.
The Ascension is inspiring like a graduation. It is the public handoff, the baton transferred in the relay as a diploma on a stage. It’s our turn. To take off, launching ourselves into the world.
And that our potential is so wide open and the challenge so clear, we can pretend that it is all so inevitable or normal, what would have to happen. Like a sign of adulthood, rather than achievement; of expectation rather than hope and transformation. Of grace.
This isn’t about Jesus leaving. It’s about our being here. For our turn.