Ascension Day is Coming – Do You Know What it Means?

Christ Ascended into Heaven - Dome of Monastery in Mirozh Russia, Public Domain

Christ Ascended into Heaven – Dome of Monastery in Mirozh Russia, Public Domain

Thursday is Ascension Day the day on which we remember Jesus ascension into heaven 40 days after he rose from the dead.  What I did not realize until recently is that for many this is also a celebration of the new creation that God brought into being by the ascension of Jesus.  What beautiful imagery to carry with us for the rest of the season until Pentecost.

This is not a celebration that I grew up with, nor is it one that I have taken much notice of in the last few years.   I was amazed this morning therefore at the beautiful and enriching prayers and scriptures I came across from many different traditions and thought that I would share some of them with you. I have posted some of these in previous years but have refreshed the links and added more resources.

I love the exultant note of this prayer from Rev. Marilyn E. Thornton the Lead Editor for African American Resources at the United Methodist Publishing House

One: Let us gather as they gathered on the Mount of Olivet.
Let us remember the teachings of the law, psalms, and prophets.

Many: Ride on King Jesus, no one can hinder you!

Read the entire prayer

Here is another from the reformed tradition With A Shout

And this by David Diephouse who teaches history at Calvin College

Our God goes up with shouts of joy!

Our Lord ascends to the sound of trumpets!
All: Sing praises to our God, sing praises!
Sing praises, sing praises to our King!
The Almighty rides in triumph.
The Almighty leads captivity captive.
Who shouts for joy? Who blows the trumpet?
The hosts of heaven sing the honor of his name;
they praise him with an endless alleluia.

Read the entire prayer

And this prayer from the Catholic service for Ascension Day

God our Father,
make us joyful in the ascension of your Son Jesus Christ.
May we follow him into the new creation,
for his ascension is our glory and our hope.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Read the entire service.

John Van de Laar at Sacredise.com always has great resources for the seasons including suggested hymns, prayers and video media resources. Check out the ascension day resources here

I particularly enjoyed this video The Ascension and Jesus Christ  on The Work of the People (love their work).

Here is another good set  of videos/loops from re:Worship

And as always textweek.com has a very comprehensive list of resources for celebrating Ascension Day

Obviously there are lots of other great resources out there too so if you have found something that is particularly helpful please leave a link in the comments below.

Jesus resurrection is amazing, the fact that he acts as advocate for us before God is awe inspiring and reassuring because we know that every time we mess up (and all of us do) Jesus is there pleading for us before God.  And how I feel about that could not be better expressed than in the words of Psalm 47 written three thousand years ago

Come, everyone! Clap your hands!

Shout to God with joyful praise!
2 For the Lord Most High is awesome.
He is the great King of all the earth.
3 He subdues the nations before us,
putting our enemies beneath our feet.
4 He chose the Promised Land as our inheritance,
the proud possession of Jacob’s descendants, whom he loves.
Interlude

5God has ascended with a mighty shout.
The Lord has ascended with trumpets blaring.
6 Sing praises to God, sing praises;
sing praises to our King, sing praises!
7 For God is the King over all the earth.
Praise him with a psalm!
8 God reigns above the nations,
sitting on his holy throne.
9 The rulers of the world have gathered together
with the people of the God of Abraham.
For all the kings of the earth belong to God.
He is highly honored everywhere. (via Biblegateway.com)

And last but hopefully not least a prayer/poem I wrote some years ago that I think is appropriate for this season.  I have frequently been told it should be put to music so if anyone feels inspired to do that let me know..

God whose glory fills our world

God whose life is closer than breath

God whose love is stronger than death

God, this God of life and love

Has sent an advocate to save us

Jesus Christ the righteous, now at the right hand of God

Not to condemn but to bring full life

Not to accuse but to redeem

Not to reject but to draw close

God, this God of life and love

Has sent an advocate to save us

Jesus Christ the righteous, now at the right hand of God

God who hears the cry of our seeking souls

God who sees the pain of our suffering bodies

God who feels the loss of our grieving spirits

God, this God of life and love

Has sent an advocate to be with us forever

The Spirit of truth abides with us eternally

Before us to teach and lead,

Within us to comfort and heal,

Around us to shield and protect,

God, this God of life and love

Has sent an advocate to be with us forever

The Spirit of truth abides with us eternally

Christmas is Over Or Is It?

Christmas is Over

Christmas is Over

Now that Christmas Day is over many of us feel let down because the day we have been anticipating for so long is over. The malls strip their elaborate decorations and junk their remaining Christmas stocks with huge 50-70% off sales. The Christmas wreaths and trees are thrown out for the garbage collectors and our frenzied activities give way to a low grade depression. But Christmas isn’t really over. In the sixth century it was decided that celebrating Christmas just for a day didn’t provide time to celebrate all the joy that Christ’s birth brought into the world. They made Christmas into a twelve day festival that ended with a feast on the Eve of Epiphany on January 5th to celebrate the coming of the wise men. Yep that’s right the 12 days of Christmas begin with Christmas Day they don’t end there as many malls would have us believe. In countries where this understanding of Christmas has not been co-opted by the commercialism of our society Christmas trees are not decorated until Christmas Eve and remain in the house sparking with light and life until the Eve of Epiphany.

This is the season when we are meant to celebrate with joy and gratitude the wonder of a God whose love is so great that he sent his son to dwell amongst us. How incredible! How wonderful! Lets take advantage of every day of the Christmas season

Now is a great time to reflect on how we want to follow Christ throughout the year.  For me the more relaxed season after Christmas Day is a great time to think about my observances throughout the year. Tom & I will be going on retreat for a couple of days at the end of the week. For those of you who want to continue following the liturgical calendar here are some suggestions for scripture readings for this season and throughout the year.

The Daily Office From the Book of Common Prayer

textweek.com. has excellent liturgical resources for the entire year

Presbyterian USA daily readings

The Daily Office from the Episcopal Church US

Northumbria Community Daily Offices

Daily Prayer with the Irish Jesuits

Daily Prayer from the Catholic Church in Australia

A collection of reflections from early church fathers and others for Christmas and Epiphany season

Bosco Peters in New Zealand has excellent liturgical resources available. Tom and I are particularly enjoying the lectionary readings that he has put together for this year.

Reflections from Forward Day by Day

Dave Perry uses his spectacular photography to reflect on the lectionary

For those that may want to develop a plan for the entire year:

The Voice: The entire liturgical calendar of readings

Christianity: A Plan for Reading the Entire Bible in a Year

Upper Room Ministries provides beautiful and often very moving daily devotional prayers and meditations

Looking for Liturgical Resources – Try Some of These

I am currently working on the program for our annual Celtic retreat.  Feeling a little drained out after a rapid trip to Baltimore so not really able to concentrate.  It is at times like this that I most appreciate the resources that others have put together so I thought that you too might appreciate this list of sites I have found with good litanies, prayers and liturgical resources.  I apologize however for the fact that they are not listed in any particular order.  Since I suspect some of you may like to repost this I have added my own website to the list.

If you have others that you think should be added to the list please let me know