Sermon from May 30 2019
The statement in the Creeds that Christ “ascended into heaven” is based primarily upon Acts I : 1-9 where,
after 40 days of appearances,
the Risen Lord speaks to the Apostles about the coming of the Holy Ghost and the Church’s mission, and is taken up in a cloud.
For Christians the Ascension marks the solemn close of the post-Resurrection appearances,
and signifies the rule of Christ in the present,
(in I Cor. 15:25 we read “For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet”.)
And in Ps 110:1 we read “The Lord said to my lord, sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies they footstool.
So yes, Jesus is in the present – and will be even unto the day of Judgement.
The doctrine of the ascension implies that Christ’s humanity is taken into Heaven –
this strengthens our hope and faith,
that we too will be welcomed into heaven.
We are accepted into His Church, of which He is the head,
and through our baptism of water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
our lives are then fully offered to our Lord by the laying of hands by a bishop
thus opening up the true treasure of our faith by the receiving of His Body and Blood:
for it is Jesus himself who tells us:
“Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:54).
So this day is one of the chief feasts of the Christian year.
It is kept on the sixth Thursday, the 40th day, after Easter.
We know that this day has been celebrated since the 4th century –
as St. Augustine speaks of this day as
“For those things which are received and observed all over the world, not as written in Scripture,
but as handed down to us by tradition, we conceive these to be instituted by the Apostles themselves…
So what should this day mean to us?
Well, this is the completion of Christ ministry on earth,
and the beginning of the Church.
We know in ten days the Spirit will descend upon the Apostles
thus establishing them as the first Bishop’s;
the first overseers of Christ Church.
And Christ says (in Matthew 28:20) “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world”
and he tells the Apostles that he must leave so that the Spirit may come to guide them.
This day we reflect upon His incarnation,
As we now prepare for the coming of the Holy Ghost.
What a marvelous day of thanks and of anticipation.
Thanks for all the Christ has done, even the suffering and giving of His life that we might live.
Anticipation is now of what we can become
through the working of the Spirit within our lives.
Each of us, need to evaluate ourselves
and constantly prepare ourselves for coming of the spirit into His Church;
as well as His coming within our own hearts.
Open your hearts to the spirit,
invite Him in,
pray that He stays and works within our broken and sinful souls;
and that He guides us into the will of God and away from the will of Man.
Let us go back 2500 years and hear the words Jerimiah spoke:
Jer 31:31: Behold, the days come, saith the LORD,
that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt;
which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:
But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel;
After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts;
and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD:
for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them,
saith the LORD:
for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
To Jeremiah, we all can say Amen! So be it!
Let us give thanks to God for His wonderful plan for our Salvation.
Come and receive the Body and Blood of He who ascended to the Heavens for us
and awaits our fulfilling of our Sanctification via direction of His Holy Spirit
as we say and pray to God, together with the Jews of Isaiah 6:3,:
“Holy, holy, holy.”
For indeed is: “heaven and earth full of His glory.”
Let us ascend to be with Him on the day of Judgement, but why wait, ascend in your lives today to follow him and be with him….
He awaits you, will you not come to Him today (?); that you might remain with Him forever?