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Ascension Day

GRANT, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that like as we do believe thy only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into the heavens; so we may also in heart and mind thither ascend, and with him continually dwell, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

Readings below: Acts i.1 St. Luke xxiv. 49.

Ye shall receive power

The Day of Ascension marks the end of the 40 days that Jesus walked with his Disciples after the Resurrection. It always falls on the Thursday 10 days before Pentecost. During those 40 days, he revealed many things about the Kingdom of God. At one point he breathed on them and conveyed the Holy Spirit to them. Now, at Bethany, he meets with them for the last time and tells them they should wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father -- the baptism in the Holy Spirit. He tells that in not too many days they shall receive power. Then, with his hands raised up, he blesses them for the last time and ascends into heaven, and is taken up in a cloud.

The power that will come is for a specific purpose -- to spread the Good News of the Salvation of Jesus Christ. The apostles are commissioned to go not only throughout the land of the Jews, but to the ends of the earth preaching the Gospel witnessing all that they had see Jesus say and do. We have the account of that witness in the Gospels and epistles.

Today, if you are reading this homily on the Internet, then you are part of a worldwide revolution that has been called the Information Age that grows exponentially. We, who have inherited the promise of power that Jesus gave to the Apostles, have the ability to reach out to every corner of the earth to tell the Good News of Jesus' love and redemption. We do not need expensive broadcast equipment -- just a keyboard, a computer connected to the Internet, a knowledge of the Gospel, and a witness of the love of Jesus. We are limited only by our own imagination. As the collect says, we may in heart and mind ascend to be with him, be inspired by him, and continually dwell with him - and we may share this experience with the world instantly.

And what is the Good News we shall share? His death, resurrection, ascension, and coming again: and that Salvation is through the Lord Jesus. The angles told the Disciples that Jesus would return again in glorious power, in the same manner as he had ascended. This was indeed Good News, and the Disciples received it with much rejoicing going daily to the Temple to praise and glorify God. And we rejoice too, with each and every Lord's Supper our liturgy affirms his ascension, "having in remembrance...his glorious ascension". Likewise our creeds affirm that he ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of God, and will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Keep these truths close to you. Our Lord ascended to his throne in glory to be seated at the right-hand side of the Father. There, he is our Advocate and Mediator. At the end time he shall return to this world and gather up the elect to rule with him. The Good and Faithful shall ascend with him into heaven and reign there with him. But, as our creed today [1] admonishes us, we must "keep the Faith whole and undefiled." For all "shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting : and they that have done evil into everlasting fire."

[1]In the original Prayer Book, it was required that the Confession of our Christian Faith: commonly called The Creed of St. Athanasius, be recited on this day instead of the other creeds

Hymn: Hail the Day that Sees Him Arise

Acts i. 1.

THE former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: to whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: and, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so came in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

St. Luke xxiv. 49.

JESUS said, Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.

Psalm 24. Domini est terra.

THE earth is the LORD'S, and all that therein is; * the compass of the world, and they that dwell therein.
For he hath founded it upon the seas, * and stablished it upon the floods.
Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? * or who shall rise up in his holy place?
Even he that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; * and that hath not lift up his mind unto vanity, nor sworn to deceive his neighbour.
He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, * and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
This is the generation of them that seek him; * even of them that seek thy face, O God of Jacob.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; * and the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory? * It is the LORD strong and mighty, even the LORD mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; * and the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory? * Even the LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory.

Psalm 47. Omnes gentes, plaudite.

CLAP your hands together, all ye peoples: * O sing unto God with the voice of melody.
For the LORD is high, and to be feared; * he is the great King upon all the earth.
He shall subdue the peoples under us, * and the nations under our feet.
He shall choose out an heritage for us, * even the excellency of Jacob, whom he loved.
God is gone up with a merry noise, * and the LORD with the sound of the trump.
O sing praises, sing praises unto our God; * O sing praises, sing praises unto our King.
For God is the King of all the earth: * sing ye praises with understanding.
God reigneth over the nations; * God sitteth upon his holy seat.
The princes of the peoples are joined unto the people of the God of Abraham; * for God, which is very high exalted, doth defend the earth, as it were with a shield.

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