Stations of the Resurrection
IX – At the Ascending

A Psalm Paraphrase

P: Clap your hands and sing for joy. The LORD God has ascended in glory. Blow trumpets and shout praise, for He is greatly exalted.
1 There is a victory parade that happens every Sunday now, for this is the Lord’s day and marvelous in our sight. It is the day to celebrate Christ’s resurrection and acknowledge his enthronement.
2 Christ reigns as King of the universe. We continually look up with radiant, expectant faces, to ascribe him glory and honor. Our work of worship requires our attention and participation. Use clear and careful language, wear your Sunday best, and override all other claims on your time. Silence your cell phones and preclude other distractions. Give your best to the Highest!
3 Wear your baptismal garment and exult in your sin-forgiven cleanliness. Dance before the Lord and join hands with your brothers and sisters. The Lord is exalted. This Jesus will come again, robed in majesty and armed with strength.
P: Glory and blessing be to God the Holy One, Creator of the universe, who in the power of the Holy Spirit, raised from the dead our Lord, Jesus Christ.

 

Lection

Hebrews 1:1-14

1Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

5For to which of the angels did God ever say,

“You are my Son,
today I have begotten you”?

Or again,

“I will be to him a father,
and he shall be to me a son”?

6And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,

“Let all God’s angels worship him.”

7Of the angels he says,

“He makes his angels winds,
and his ministers a flame of fire.”

8But of the Son he says,

“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
9You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”

10And,

“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
and the heavens are the work of your hands;
11they will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment,
12like a robe you will roll them up,
like a garment they will be changed.
But you are the same,
and your years will have no end.”

13And to which of the angels has he ever said,

“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”?

14Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

P: This is the word of the Lord.
C: Thanks be to God.

 

Acts 1:1-11

1In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3To them he presented himself alive after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

4And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

6So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

P: This is the word of the Lord.
C: Thanks be to God.

 

Luke 24:50-53

50Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53and were continually in the temple blessing God.

P: This is the word of the Lord.
C: Thanks be to God.

 

Artwork and Discussion

Luke 24:50-53 – Acts 1:1-11

Jesus lifts up his hands and blesses his followers. He is our High Priest (see Hebrews 4:14-16), providing mercy and grace, so that the Church can carry on with confidence and joy when he is no longer visibly present, except in the form of bread and wine In the midst of the blessings, Jesus withdrew from them (Luke 24:51 Greek: ‘di-estae’ = ‘go away, depart’), much like Elijah departs from Elisha (see 2 Kings 2:9-10—seeing the departure is a guarantee that the spirit is conveyed to those who continue the ministry; compare Acts 1:8-11). The cloud which eventually hides Jesus’ ascent has the same meaning as the cloud at the time of the Exodus under Moses (see Exodus 13:21-22)—God still goes before his people, leading them to the promised land. Jesus had promised: “surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). The disciples wait in Jerusalem for the outpouring of the Spirit ten days later (Acts 2).

In the ancient world, the “three story universe” made sense: heaven above, the earth beneath, and hell below the earth. Measuring this cosmos with only eyesight, it surely looks like sky meets earth at the horizon (spiked down at the edges like a tent) and above us the sky looks like a huge dome along whose circumference moves the sun, moon and stars. The earth appears to be like a flat table, subject to earthquakes as God likes to get our attention by shaking the pillar legs of the table when we think we possess the earth and deserve it’s bounty, or when we give ourselves over to evil and crucify His Son. Then nature, in service to the Creator, rebels against human pride and arrogance and cuts us down to size. Hell is the place of fire, and you don’t want to go there. If you doubt it, just visit Yellowstone National Park and smell the sulphur or visit Mt. St. Helens and look into its steaming crater.

But in our scientific age, up and down as cosmic directions don’t make sense. The bibilical cosmology is metaphorical: heaven is God’s throne, the earth is His footstool (Matthew 5:34-35). At the “ascending,” Jesus departs from his disciples for the last time. Accordingly, he is still “with them” and they are “in Christ,” satisfied to know that the “times are in God’s hands” (Acts 1:7) and we shouldn’t worry about the end-time, but rather get to work caring for people and blessing the creation by practicing ecology. Jesus will come back again…. Be patient, God is still working on us. We are his “work of art” (Ephesians 2:10), certainly still a “work in progress.” Finally, look up, not down—have courage and don’t despair, Jesus is Lord.

 

Meditation / A Responsive Reading

4 Like a hot air balloon ascending into the blue sky, Jesus causes us to look up. It is a positive direction; we crane our necks to catch a last glimpse before the ascent is too high to scan and comprehend. Our heads are looking into the sky; our mouths agape, our hearts filled with agape.
5 Jesus withdraws from his disciples for the last time. This last appearance was like the others, all of them have been mysterious–sudden bodily insertions into the midst of disciples followed by sudden withdrawals. These are post-resurrection glimpses of the One who is no longer constrained by time and space, who still shows up wherever two or three gather in his name.
6 We have been given a new cosmology–the awareness of which is as strange as the sub-atomic world of quarks and the Higgs boson. The large Hadron Collider can test for the elusive particle, but there was no record of the sperm of the Spirit which fertilized Mary’s womb, except in the person and work of Jesus. While he has gone up in glory, he is still present with us.
7 The full test of the reality of the resurrection lies in what we do with this faith in Jesus, now proclaimed as “Christ and Lord.” We gather around the bread and cup, indicative of the places where Christ has promised to dwell, and proclaim his death until he comes again as victorious Lord of all. We keep at it.

 

The Prayer

P: Lord Jesus Christ, at God’s right hand you intercede for us and interpret the Spirit’s groans. Renew your church through your eucharistic presence and lead us to give thanks in every circumstance for your grace and blessing. In your name we gather and pray. Amen.

 

Closing Hymn

 

 

Closing

A: Jesus unites heaven and earth, revealing his Father to be Creator of both sky and soil. In him our own spiritual and bodily natures are made whole–the lofty and the lowly are brought together, our plans and passions are redeemed and entwined, fully  human. To bring the mystery home the living christ dwells within us. Put this on your “Street of Dreams” location: the home where Christ dwells is where you live.