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    Ascension Day

    Thoughts on Christ's Ascension

    By John Donne, J. Heinrich Arnold, Johann Christoph Blumhardt

    May 13, 2021
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    The Feast of the Ascension of Jesus Christ, or Ascension Thursday, comes as the fortieth day of Easter. The disciples who were with Jesus in the village of Bethany witnessed his lifting up, watching even as he vanished into heaven. They were comforted and encouraged by angels: “Someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!” (Acts 1:6–11).

    John Donne (1571–1631)

    Salute the last, and everlasting day,
    Joy at the uprising of this Sun, and Son,
    Ye whose true tears, or tribulation
    Have purely wash'd, or burnt your drossy clay.
    Behold, the Highest, parting hence away,
    Lightens the dark clouds, which He treads upon;
    Nor doth he by ascending show alone,
    But first He, and He first enters the way.
    O strong Ram, which hast batter'd heaven for me!
    Mild lamb, which with Thy Blood hast mark'd the path!
    Bright Torch, which shinest, that I the way may see!
    O, with Thy own Blood quench Thy own just wrath;
    And if Thy Holy Spirit my Muse did raise,
    Deign at my hands this crown of prayer and praise

    Heinrich Arnold (1913-1982)

    Certainly we should not only remember Christ’s death and his suffering when we think of the Lord’s Supper – we should also remember his resurrection from the dead and his ascension to the Father, from whose side he will rule the church and the heart of every believer. And we should remember his promise to come again to judge us and to establish his wonderful kingdom.

    From Discipleship: Living for Christ in the Daily Grind

    Johann Christoph Blumhardt (1805–1880)

    “No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven – the Son of Man.” (John 3:13)

    If we wanted to ascend through our own power and ability we would never achieve it! Only the Son of Man who is in heaven is able to take us to himself; for, although he is on earth, his whole being is rooted in heaven, because he came from there. What indeed would have become of us if we had not been given such mighty help! But it costs many battles in prayer from our side, and much patience, until the Lord arms us with his strength from above, and until he reveals his full glory which he will disclose to all who believe.

    It is however with deep reverence that we have to stand before a word like the one the Lord speaks to Nicodemus, a ruler of the Pharisees. How clearly he then said that he has to come down from heaven; and a Nicodemus had to hear it and make out of it what he could! Indeed the Lord knows himself as the One who is still in heaven, because in his divine being he is one with the Father, and can never be separated completely from the Father nor from heaven--even in the lowliest condition of a servant in which he was then placed.

    Our understanding can, and never will be able to grasp this, especially in our day. And because many cannot grasp it, they also do not believe it any more. They would rather throw overboard the whole Gospel of John as ungenuine, because it includes such words from Jesus. But who has enough comprehension of the divine Being, to be able to accept something that is foolish and false to his own intellect? After all, we are placed on this earth with only a limited understanding, although our spirit is not so completely separated from heaven because it originates in God! It is said of those who are born again, "Our way of life is in heaven," and "I live, but not I, but Christ lives in me." This does not only mean, "We are with our thoughts with Christ in heaven;" it has the wider meaning, that our spirit is rooted now in heaven. That is particularly true when we have the gift of the Holy Spirit, which was found in Christ in abundance, but is also promised to us. Our spirit has a foundation in heaven with God on whom it rests. It draws strength from heaven unto itself, and thus is able to rise up to heaven, to be in inner community with the Lord. If that is the case with us already in spite of all our weaknesses and baseness, what must it have been like with Jesus, who came from the bosom of the Father? It is especially the case with us if we have the gift of the Holy Spirit which, found abundantly in Christ, is also promised to us.

    If we could better understand ourselves, as God's creation, we could adapt ourselves better to the wonderful incarnation of Christ and all the greatness and glory which is thereby opened to us.

    From Er sandte Sein Wort (1868).

    a painting of the Ascension of Jesus

    Andrei Rublev, Ascension of Jesus, 1408

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