Author Topic: The Feast of the Ascension  (Read 613 times)

Weedon

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The Feast of the Ascension
« on: May 12, 2021, 09:33:55 PM »
On this Eve of the Ascension, just pausing for a moment to thank God for the participants on this Forum and for the joy of our Lord’s Ascension into heaven and His session at the right hand of the Father.

Hebrews 2:8-9  Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

My favorite bit of OP for the feast:

Now He was going home... In seven words the years of labor and sorrow end: "While they beheld, He was taken up."... There were no bells and banners on earth, but surely all the trumpets on the other side sounded as they never sounded before... Surely the chiming golden bells of heaven sang their welcome, and angel choirs intoned the song of the throne: "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdomand strength."... On the anvils of God the nails had been forged into the scepter of a king... "He was taken up"... The angel hosts sweep to either side, leaving the way clear to the Eternal Light that no longer blinds the eyes of us who stand gazing after Him... He leads a procession which comes from the ends of time and space, all the harvest of all the white fields the world has ever known, the pilgrims of the night who come at last to the dawn of an everlasting day... "He was taken up." The Child of the manger, the praying heart on the starlit lanes of Galilee, the hunger in the wilderness, the weariness of the Sychar Well, the tears of the Garden and the Hill, the thirst of the Cross - all over now... The robes of the Transfiguration once momentary, now clothe Him forever, and angels and archangels sound the great doxology of the Waiting Church: "Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever."...

An old story - perhaps too old for us to do more than glimpse its glory... And yet - we ought to remember it more clearly... It was the solemn moment in the story of God and man when the visible Christ became the invisible Christ... From that hour everything concerning Him became visible only to the eyes of faith... The final line of demarcation in the world - between those who believe and those who refuse to believe - was now clear... Men can say that all this is not true and use the mind of man to reject the mind of God, or they can know that God once walked among them and that they now have a Friend in heaven who knows all that earth and time and pain can do to man...

The Ascension did not take Jesus away... It brought heaven near... In the realm in which He now reigns time and space have no meaning... There is no up and down, no near and far, no darkness, and no distance in the world of faith... He is as near as yesterday's prayer, today's joy, tomorrow's sorrow... His homecoming has made heaven a home for us who still walk far from home... Wherefore stand we gazing into heaven?... Our momentary task is here, but through the slow dimming of the years we see the evening lamps of home tended by the pierced hands of Him who has gone to prepare a place for us... Is there a better way to live - or die? ... All that we have to do now is believe and follow:

The lapping of the sea of death before his feet
Crept near; the wind was wild;
But he, who knew the One he came to meet,
Saw it and smiled.

Stepping without a hesitating word
Into the icy tide,
As if he saw the footprints of his Lord
Gleam at his side,

Borne up by Love that gave as he had given,
He crossed the midnight foam
And laid his hand upon the door of heaven
Like one returning home.

The Pilgrim, p. 14

Dave Likeness

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Re: The Feast of the Ascension
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2021, 09:54:46 PM »
Dr. O.P. Kretzmann was one of the Lord's gifts to the church.  His love of the Lord shined through
his writing, his preaching, and his leadership as President of Valpo University.

Michael Slusser

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Re: The Feast of the Ascension
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2021, 09:55:15 PM »
Quote
“A cloud took him from their sight.” Let’s look more closely at that cloud. It is no ordinary cloud. It isn't a cloud that a painter placed for our Lord to stand on. It isn't a cloud for data storage. It is a cloud that we have seen in the Bible before.
   Do you remember when Jesus took Peter, James, and John up on the mountain to pray? As he was praying, his appearance was changed, and two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared and talked with Jesus. Peter and those with him were amazed and Peter babbled something about putting up tents for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Just then, “a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my chosen Son; listen to him.’” (Luke 9.34-35) In the cloud on the mountaintop they hear the voice of God. That cloud is back, and, when Jesus vanishes from their sight on Ascension Day, it is into the company of his Father.
   We have encountered this cloud in the Old Testament, too. If we go back to the book of Exodus, we read that at Mount Sinai, a cloud covered the mountain and the voice of the Lord called Moses to enter the cloud up on the mountain (Exod. 24-25) to speak with God. Later on, we are told that the cloud that represented God’s protective presence settled over the tent where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. “Whenever Moses went out to the tent, the people would all rise and stand at the entrance of their own tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses entered the tent, the column of cloud would come down and stand at its entrance while the LORD spoke with Moses” (Exod. 33. 9-10). Likewise, after King Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem, we hear that “a cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD” (1 Kgs 8.10-11).
   That cloud is the one that took Jesus from their sight. It is the biblical cloud that marks God’s presence while concealing his glory. When the cloud took Jesus from their sight, they knew he had gone to be with his Father, and that reunion took place out of sight in the cloud of the divine presence.
   If only we could behold the wonders concealed from us in that cloud! If only the heavens would open a tiny bit to make our hearts burn with desire for the things of God! There is a way: if we ask, the Holy Spirit of God can manifest hints of truth and beauty to us even now, as the Spirit prepares us to follow Jesus into that cloud ourselves. Let us pray, as we prepare for Pentecost, that God’s Spirit will come and form our minds and hearts to be ready to see God face-to-face.

Peace,
Michael
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J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: The Feast of the Ascension
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2021, 10:18:20 PM »
Quote

   If only we could behold the wonders concealed from us in that cloud! If only the heavens would open a tiny bit to make our hearts burn with desire for the things of God! There is a way: if we ask, the Holy Spirit of God can manifest hints of truth and beauty to us even now, as the Spirit prepares us to follow Jesus into that cloud ourselves. Let us pray, as we prepare for Pentecost, that God’s Spirit will come and form our minds and hearts to be ready to see God face-to-face.


The Orthodox Troparion of the Ascension similarly reveals the linkage between the two Great Feasts:

Quote

Fourth Tone

You ascended in glory, O Christ our God,
after You filled the Disciples with joy,
by promising to send them the Holy Spirit,
and You blessed them and established their faith,
that You are the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world.


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Weedon

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Re: The Feast of the Ascension
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2021, 10:48:10 AM »
A joyous feast indeed. Was blessed to serve as Deacon at this morning’s Mass. Opening procession with the Venerable Bede’s great “A Hymn of Glory.” Three of the school children carried the cross and the torches, I carried the lectionary. The usual readings (including the Holy Gospel from the Longer ending of St. Mark), upon which Pastor preached; and the Paschal Candle snuffed out during the Epistle reading as we paused at “a cloud took him out of their sight.” “Up through Endless” and thoughts of both Jaroslav Vajda and Henry Gerike. I remember well the day the two of them spoke to our worship class about how text and tune came to be. The joys of the Eucharist with that lovely Ascension preface (“partakers of His divine life”) and then receiving that life in His very body and blood for our forgiveness, a divine life not bounded by death. Throughout the distribution the children belted out the hymns: “On Christ’s Ascension” and “Christ Sits at God’s Right Hand.” At the doxology of that later piece, the congregation stood and it was the first time I noticed how much LOUDER the singing was! The closing thanksgiving and prayers and then processing out to “Look, Ye Saints.” I think there were upwards of 80 of us gathered for the liturgy this morning; another Mass will be observed this evening for those who couldn’t make the 8:20 a.m. time. When I was leaving, a dear member and old friend commented on the children’s singing, at how well and joyously and loudly they sang liturgy and hymns. So true. Don’t believe anyone who tells you “kids can’t sing that stuff.” Simply not true at all. Joys abounding on every side! Blessed Feast Day to one and all!
« Last Edit: May 13, 2021, 11:06:00 AM by Weedon »

Dave Benke

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Re: The Feast of the Ascension
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2021, 12:27:21 PM »
We have no school classes in NYC today.  Not because of the Ascension of our Lord, but because today is Eid al Fitr, the last day of Ramadan.  And on the streets where I work, the neighborhood has been blocked off for those observances.  Not for Ascension.  Ascension merits a second ranking in NYC - alternate side of the street parking is not in effect.  It's a biggie, but not at the level of school closure.

We celebrated on Ascension Eve, which is, this year, and every year, on a Wednesday.

Dave Benke

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Re: The Feast of the Ascension
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2021, 01:04:09 PM »
At the church of my youth, it was customary to extinguish the Paschal Candle at the reading of the words, "and a cloud hid him from their sight."  I realize that with 10 days to go in the Easter season, this isn't technically liturgically correct, but I always thought it was an effective dramatization of the change from the Jesus seen with one's eyes to the Jesus seen by faith.

Peace,
Jon

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Re: The Feast of the Ascension
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2021, 04:08:15 PM »
At the church of my youth, it was customary to extinguish the Paschal Candle at the reading of the words, "and a cloud hid him from their sight."  I realize that with 10 days to go in the Easter season, this isn't technically liturgically correct, but I always thought it was an effective dramatization of the change from the Jesus seen with one's eyes to the Jesus seen by faith.

Peace,
Jon

Earlier this year Pr. Weedon began (or offered some excellent contributions to) a discussion on the confusion created by the adoption of the title of "Seventh Sunday of Easter" as contrasted with "Exaudi Sunday" or "The Sunday of Ascensiontide".

Your comment illustrates one of many reasons why "Seventh Sunday of Easter" is not an appropriate title.

In the Orthodox Church we celebrate Pascha/Easter for 40 days.  On the final day (Wednesday before Ascencion) we celebrate the Paschal Orthros exactly as it had been done after midnight on that "Feast of feasts, Holy day of holy days.."   

On Ascension Thursday all of the liturgical elements of Pascha are put away.  We no longer sing "Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down Death by death...."  or any of the other hymns of the season. The Iconostatis doors (in Greek practice) which had been fully open for 40 days are now closed.

So...extinguishing the Paschal Candle?  A great visual transition from Paschatide to Ascensciontide--the latter only nine days in duration but a true season in its own right, separate and distinct from the days which preceded.


« Last Edit: May 13, 2021, 09:22:47 PM by J. Thomas Shelley »
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Dan Fienen

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Re: The Feast of the Ascension
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2021, 10:11:31 PM »
I'm sorry, I forget where the New Testament sets out the liturgical calendar that we all are commanded to follow, which calendar clearly specifies that the Easter Season must absolutely end with the Ascension and it is a betrayal of Christ, the Apostles, and all that is Holy to have a Seventh Sunday of Easter.


Look, I get it that you find ending the Easter Season with the Ascension and following it with a nine day Ascension Season meaningful and useful. Actually it makes sense. But I just don't think that I have betrayed the faith if Sunday in my congregation the Sunday is termed the Seventh Sunday of Easter.
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Re: The Feast of the Ascension
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2021, 10:21:51 PM »
I'm sorry, I forget where the New Testament sets out the liturgical calendar that we all are commanded to follow, which calendar clearly specifies that the Easter Season must absolutely end with the Ascension and it is a betrayal of Christ, the Apostles, and all that is Holy to have a Seventh Sunday of Easter.


Look, I get it that you find ending the Easter Season with the Ascension and following it with a nine day Ascension Season meaningful and useful. Actually it makes sense. But I just don't think that I have betrayed the faith if Sunday in my congregation the Sunday is termed the Seventh Sunday of Easter.
Sheesh. He said it was not an appropriate title. He didn't say anyone who uses it has betrayed the faith.

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Re: The Feast of the Ascension
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2021, 11:09:04 PM »
I'm sorry, I forget where the New Testament sets out the liturgical calendar that we all are commanded to follow, which calendar clearly specifies that the Easter Season must absolutely end with the Ascension and it is a betrayal of Christ, the Apostles, and all that is Holy to have a Seventh Sunday of Easter.


Look, I get it that you find ending the Easter Season with the Ascension and following it with a nine day Ascension Season meaningful and useful. Actually it makes sense. But I just don't think that I have betrayed the faith if Sunday in my congregation the Sunday is termed the Seventh Sunday of Easter.
Sheesh. He said it was not an appropriate title. He didn't say anyone who uses it has betrayed the faith.
Thank you.

What IS a betrayal of the faith inherited from the saints and, more importantly, the canonical Scriptures is to "transfer" the Great Feast of the Ascension to the 43rd day after Pascha/Easter aka "The Seventh Sunday of Easter" or Exaudi Sunday.

43 40  PERIOD.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2021, 11:10:37 PM by J. Thomas Shelley »
Greek Orthodox-Ecumenical Patriarchate

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peter_speckhard

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Re: The Feast of the Ascension
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2021, 11:12:27 PM »
I'm sorry, I forget where the New Testament sets out the liturgical calendar that we all are commanded to follow, which calendar clearly specifies that the Easter Season must absolutely end with the Ascension and it is a betrayal of Christ, the Apostles, and all that is Holy to have a Seventh Sunday of Easter.


Look, I get it that you find ending the Easter Season with the Ascension and following it with a nine day Ascension Season meaningful and useful. Actually it makes sense. But I just don't think that I have betrayed the faith if Sunday in my congregation the Sunday is termed the Seventh Sunday of Easter.
Sheesh. He said it was not an appropriate title. He didn't say anyone who uses it has betrayed the faith.
Thank you.

What IS a betrayal of the faith inherited from the saints and, more importantly, the canonical Scriptures is to "transfer" the feast of the Ascension to the 43rd day after Pascha/Easter aka "The Seventh Sunday of Easter" or Exaudi Sunday.

43 40  PERIOD.
I disagree. Recognizing days and feasts and whatnot is always adiaphora. I can celebrate Christmas on Ascension Day if I feel like it and I haven't betrayed the faith once handed down. It may be an incredibly unhelpful idea, but it isn't sinful, faithless, or any kind of rejection or denial of Christianity.

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Re: The Feast of the Ascension
« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2021, 12:15:53 AM »
I'm sorry, I forget where the New Testament sets out the liturgical calendar that we all are commanded to follow, which calendar clearly specifies that the Easter Season must absolutely end with the Ascension and it is a betrayal of Christ, the Apostles, and all that is Holy to have a Seventh Sunday of Easter.


Look, I get it that you find ending the Easter Season with the Ascension and following it with a nine day Ascension Season meaningful and useful. Actually it makes sense. But I just don't think that I have betrayed the faith if Sunday in my congregation the Sunday is termed the Seventh Sunday of Easter.
Sheesh. He said it was not an appropriate title. He didn't say anyone who uses it has betrayed the faith.
Thank you.

What IS a betrayal of the faith inherited from the saints and, more importantly, the canonical Scriptures is to "transfer" the feast of the Ascension to the 43rd day after Pascha/Easter aka "The Seventh Sunday of Easter" or Exaudi Sunday.

43 40  PERIOD.
I disagree. Recognizing days and feasts and whatnot is always adiaphora. I can celebrate Christmas on Ascension Day if I feel like it and I haven't betrayed the faith once handed down. It may be an incredibly unhelpful idea, but it isn't sinful, faithless, or any kind of rejection or denial of Christianity.

I think you misunderstand.

My argument is with those Western Christians which, unfortunately, now include most Catholic Dioeceses who seem to think that the Biblical interval of 40 from Pascha/Easter to Ascension may be  (and should be) extended to 43 days out of "pastoral consideration". 

Celebrate Christmas whenever you wish:  December 25 or January 7, some day in between or some day outside of either.  Celebrate Pascha/Easter whenever you wish,   But for the sake of the Lukan "orderly account" and good order celebrate the Ascension 40 days afterward; no more and no less!
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peter_speckhard

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Re: The Feast of the Ascension
« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2021, 12:28:16 AM »
I'm sorry, I forget where the New Testament sets out the liturgical calendar that we all are commanded to follow, which calendar clearly specifies that the Easter Season must absolutely end with the Ascension and it is a betrayal of Christ, the Apostles, and all that is Holy to have a Seventh Sunday of Easter.


Look, I get it that you find ending the Easter Season with the Ascension and following it with a nine day Ascension Season meaningful and useful. Actually it makes sense. But I just don't think that I have betrayed the faith if Sunday in my congregation the Sunday is termed the Seventh Sunday of Easter.
Sheesh. He said it was not an appropriate title. He didn't say anyone who uses it has betrayed the faith.
Thank you.

What IS a betrayal of the faith inherited from the saints and, more importantly, the canonical Scriptures is to "transfer" the feast of the Ascension to the 43rd day after Pascha/Easter aka "The Seventh Sunday of Easter" or Exaudi Sunday.

43 40  PERIOD.
I disagree. Recognizing days and feasts and whatnot is always adiaphora. I can celebrate Christmas on Ascension Day if I feel like it and I haven't betrayed the faith once handed down. It may be an incredibly unhelpful idea, but it isn't sinful, faithless, or any kind of rejection or denial of Christianity.

I think you misunderstand.

My argument is with those Western Christians which, unfortunately, now include most Catholic Dioeceses who seem to think that the Biblical interval of 40 from Pascha/Easter to Ascension may be  (and should be) extended to 43 days out of "pastoral consideration". 

Celebrate Christmas whenever you wish:  December 25 or January 7, some day in between or some day outside of either.  Celebrate Pascha/Easter whenever you wish,   But for the sake of the Lukan "orderly account" and good order celebrate the Ascension 40 days afterward; no more and no less!
I agree. We did a circuit-wide Ascension service this evening at a sister congregation with all the circuit clergy participating. I'm all about doing Ascension on Ascension. But I generally move All Saints to the first Sunday of November just to maximize attendance rather than do it on the correct day with a small crowd. That is a pastoral concern. Yes, 40 days is relevant. I just don't think it some sort of denial of the faith to celebrate the Ascension of our Lord a different number than 40 days after celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord. It seems to me your view is that halfway is worse than all the way, while the view of "pastoral concern" that moves the feast is that halfway is better than nothing. Both are true, so it all boils down to knowing the context well enough to know the choice involved.

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Re: The Feast of the Ascension
« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2021, 04:01:16 AM »
I am with Peter on this. Liturgical and calendar rigidity on this is less important that pastoral and pious reality. Yes, our people should be more in tune with the calendar. But they aren't.
Celebrate Ascension on "the day" - a handful of people, minimizing the theme of the feast.
Celebrate Ascension on the following Sunday - a fuller church, and more people "get" the feast.
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