Thursday, June 2, 2011

Christ Has Ascended in Glory!

In the Life of the Church, we celebrate one of the 12 major feasts (The Ascension of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ) on the 40th day following the Feast of Feasts - our Lord's Resurrection. Therefore, this year the great feast of the Ascension is celebrated on Thursday, June 2nd in the Life of the Church!

This great event, with which Jesus' life on earth concludes, is briefly mentioned in the Gospels of Mark and Luke, with a much fuller account in the Acts of the Apostles. Gathering His disciples, Jesus commanded them not to leave Jerusalem , but to await what had been promised by the Father, that is the descent of the Holy Spirit.

Then, He went with His disciples to Bethany and stopped on the Mount of Olives. "While they beheld, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, 'Ye men of Galilee , why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven'" (Acts 1:9-11).

Ascension of our Lord
Image Source

According to the account given in Luke's gospel: "And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now, it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy..." (Luke 24:50-53).

Jesus, their Master, leaves them, yet His disciples are filled with great joy. Its an odd reality to grasp; the comfort of being in the presence of their Lord, especially witnessing His Resurrection and being "filled with great joy" at His departure from them. But the reason for such a feeling among the Disciples is the promise given to them: Jesus tells them that He must go to the Father, but He will send the Holy Spirit upon them.

We celebrate this feastday soon (in 10 days) on the Great Feast of Pentecost (the descent of the Holy Spirit). Christ's Ascension is a glorious occasion; "the crowning achievement of His earthly mission."

Troparion of the Feast of the Ascension (Tone 4): “Thou hast ascended in glory, O Christ our God, and gladdened thy Disciples with the promise of the Holy Spirit, having become confident of the blessing. Verily, thou art the Son of God, and Deliverer of the world.”

Wishing you and your family a blessed great feast of the Ascension!

- A Day in the Life of the Youth Director

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