May 16, 2023

From the Rector…

The evangelist Luke tells the story of the ascension of Christ twice. Once in his gospel, Luke 24:51, and a second time in the book of The Acts of the Apostles, Acts 1:9-11. The description is similar in both instances though a little more detail is provided in the account given in Acts. Jesus and the disciples are gathered together and, while he is blessing them, he lifts his arms and is carried into heaven. Then the disciples worship him and return to Jerusalem. Here is where the account diverges a bit.  

In Luke, once the disciples return to Jerusalem, it is reported that they were continually in the temple blessing God. In Acts, they go into an upstairs room where they constantly devote themselves to prayer. The temple or an upper room—where did they go to pray and does it really matter? Scholars don’t have a clear answer as to why the discrepancy or how much it matters. It is a little strange considering that the same person wrote both books. But getting lost in the detail of where the disciples went to worship distracts us from the more important points of the story.  

First, it is apparent that they prayed. Both the Gospel and the book of Acts are very clear not only that they prayed, but that they prayed A LOT. Luke says that “they were continually in the temple blessing God.” Acts says that they “devoted themselves to prayer.” The response to the ascension of Jesus is one of prayer and worship.

Second, they did it together. The ascension of Christ was so powerful that the disciples gathered together—stayed together—and responded to what they had witnessed as one body. And not just the disciples. Acts tells us that they gathered “with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus” to pray. Their actions that day were the first documented actions of the body of Christ. Praying together—that is the response to witnessing such a powerful moment. It is not so much where they prayed, but that they prayed together as one.

At CoA, we gather year after year to witness to this moment in the life of Christ. We might not actually see the ascension, but neither did others who gathered with the disciples anyway. As our namesake, the Feast of the Ascension is our responsibility and joy to commemorate and celebrate. It is how we continue to tell the story to the generations who follow—even to those who do not already know it. Imagine a world in which the story of the ascension is not told—maybe even forgotten.

In the Great Commission we are told to make disciples of all the world. Part of that work is in telling the story of Jesus—not just to those who don’t know the story, but also to those who do. At Ascension, we get a special task in ensuring that Jesus’ ascension will be remembered. And more than simply a memory, that it will be a time to gather and pray and bless and be together—an opportunity to reenact that first expression of the body of Christ. We tell the story to one another—in words, in feelings, in making memories, in sharing in the one body. And we do that year after year.

I invite you to come and be a part of the work that Jesus and the disciples have invited us too. The work of gathering and praying and blessing and feasting and celebrating together. This year we will do so not only in remembrance of Jesus’ ascension but in the work he has called us to partner with him and one another to do in the building up of his kingdom. We will celebrate the ascension and one another as we mark the completion of the first phase of our capital campaign, The Way, The Truth, and The Life. This first phase is the completion of the fourth floor Choir Loft. A beautiful renovation of a space designed specifically for the choir—both adult and children—to rehearse in.  

The festivities begin with a covered dish supper in Ascension Hall at 5:30pm, followed by a concert in the Nave at 6:15pm, and a blessing of the Choir Loft at 7pm. Childcare will be provided. I hope you will come and be a part of this joyous celebration and occasion—lifting our hearts and our voices to the ascended Lord.

Light and Life,