The Ascension of Jesus
50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them.51 While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven.[p]52 And they worshiped him, and[q] returned to Jerusalem with great joy; 53 and they were continually in the temple blessing God.[r]
Ascension Day is celebrated each year on the Church calendar 40 days after Easter (so this post is one day late for those of you who are counting!). As we see in this passage from Luke, Christ's ascension ends up being about the disciples. Jesus blesses them, offering them spiritual gifts to share with the world, and then he departs from them.
Easter is about what Jesus did. Ascension Day is about our response to Easter. God blesses each one of us, giving us gifts to use to further God's kingdom. What will we do with these gifts? Jesus leaving gives us the opportunity to participate fully in the life of God's Church. We become essential participants in God's plan.
While it might seem like a tragedy that Jesus leaves soon after he is resurrected, it's actually a gift. We are given the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world. Rather than simply following a leader, each of us can take on key roles in our everyday lives as Christians. Ascension is about being called. It's about using our gifts to play a key part in God's plan. It's about recommitting our lives to the love and worship of our God.
Happy Ascension Day!