Ascension Day

Luke 24:44-53

Jesus said to his disciples, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you– that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. 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.


Ascension here on the Close was celebrated with great pomp and circumstance – incense and a cope, a chanted gospel at the noon Eucharist, an echo of ancient lamp lighting ceremonies at Evensong, a special choir singing Magnificat.

I found myself unable to appreciate it. From a practical standpoint, I am the Thursday day captain and had a lot of extra work and pressure to deal with to get these services off the ground. Admittedly, some of that pressure is internal, but still… As sometimes happens in these situations, some of the folks involved were wonderful to work with, and others, not so much. Being day captain sometimes means taking the brunt of people’s complaints and frustration. Thursday was just one of those days.

More central to my experience, however, was how I felt (and continue to feel) about Ascension this year. I didn’t feel like it was something to be joyful about. I know I’m supposed to think it’s great, another step in the process that begins at Christmas, a and runs through Jesus’ earthly ministry, death on the cross, and resurrection. After the resurrection appearances ascension is the next logical step, to be completed in the founding of the Church with the gift of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.

I’m not feeling all that happy about it this year. I wonder how those poor disciples felt. Those resurrection appearances must have been their wildest dreams come true, and then Jesus left, again. They were promised that something else would happen, if only they would watch and wait and pray. But what was next? They didn’t really know, and perhaps sometimes they were deeply sad and afraid. Now what? they must have wondered. What shall we do? Who are we? How will we know when this next thing happens? Was it all just a dream?

Or maybe I’m just projecting my feelings about the end of middler year and the coming departure of the class of 2008. I have, indeed, seen the Christ in them in so many ways, and have no idea what this place looks like without them. I’m a bit nervous about the upcoming months, the unbroken stretch of time from May through September when I have much to do but the schedule is more or less up to me. I don’t know when and how the Spirit will move this summer. I just know that a whole lot of people I really care about are leaving, and I’m going to be the senior, and I’m not really ready for any of it.


~ by Sophia on May 4, 2008.

One Response to “Ascension Day”

  1. Graduation is bittersweet, isn’t it? And suddenly YOU are the senior, and it’s going by SO fast…yes, I remember those days!But as always, the Spirit will move and you will be the seniors not just in name only. Every year is different, and hard and wonderful in its own way. I hope you can relax and enjoy your summer and the city.

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