We Asian-American Christians aren’t as keen as our liturgical siblings on following the Christian calendar. But I encourage everyone to try to do so. Why? Because it re-orients our year in a way to say, “Yes, we are citizens of a different kingdom. We live in a different timeline.” It is also a good way for us to connect to the events of scripture. We continue to live out the story of the kingdom today, as was also evident in the pages of scripture.
Today we celebrate Jesus’ Ascension (or exaltation) to the realm of his father. This day is important because not only does it seal the resurrection in its life-giving power, but it gives us hope for the return of our Lord. The two angels told the disciples, “You Galileans!—why do you just stand here looking up at an empty sky? This very Jesus who was taken up from among you to heaven will come as certainly—and mysteriously—as he left.”
NT Wright, in a sermon he gave at Ascension Day in 2007 says, “…heaven and earth are designed to overlap and interlock, and one day they will do so fully and for ever, as the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven to earth.” That is, Jesus didn’t go up to heaven. Jesus went “up” to heaven. Jesus has left our world as the incarnate God and now dwells with the Father. How that works out is a mystery, and should remain forever a mystery. I like to say that, rather than Jesus coming back down to earth, he will reappear to us. This next time, however, will be much different. And so we wait.
Let’s not think that our goal is be up there with Jesus. Our goal is to prepare the way for Christ’s return here on earth. What does it look like, then, to prepare? What does it look like to manifest the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven? What are the ideals and principles of the kingdom of God? What has so shook God’s heart through the ages and stirred Jesus’ being while on earth? Let’s ask ourselves these questions today.
As we celebrate Jesus Christ’s Ascension, let’s celebrate the glorious, yet humbling work we have been called to do, till he comes again…
Peace be with you all.