Today is Ascension Day in the Christian Calendar, both East and West this year. Wikipedia:
The Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, also known as Ascension Thursday, Holy Thursday, or Ascension Day, commemorates the christian belief of the bodily Ascension of Jesus into heaven. It is one of the ecumenical feasts (i.e., universally celebrated) of Christian churches, ranking with the feasts of the Passion, of Easter, and Pentecost. Ascension Day is traditionally celebrated on a Thursday, the fortieth day of Easter (following the count given in Acts 1:3), although some Christian denominations have moved the observance to the following Sunday.
Few Protestant Churches continue Ascension Day services in my experience. Perhaps that’s not true of “high church” Protestantism, like the Episcopal Church and maybe some Lutherans. I have too little experience of high church Protestantism to say one way or the other.
In my former Reformed tradition, three local churches would band together to assemble a pathetic flock. Then even that ceased. I do believe it will be in focus come Sunday the 28th, but that’s just a shadow of its former status. They won’t observe Christmas the following Sunday.
I would venture a guess than maybe 1% of non-denominational Evangelical Churches celebrated, and those would be the Emergents who are appropriating elements of Christian tradition, cafeteria style.
Some of my readers, almost all Christian at least in name (I suspect), never thought about it all day, and didn’t know that this is, supposedly, an ecumenical Christian feast.
I can be pretty dense sometimes, but it hit me a relatively few years ago that the Incarnation is forever. Christ, the second person of the Holy Trinity, didn’t just sojourn in our flesh and then shed it. He ascended today in his glorified human body, and now sits at the right hand of the Father. I can’t even begin to explain all the ramifications of that.
Any Christianity that doesn’t see that as a big, big deal is too dumbed down to merit the name Christian.
Others today regarding the feast:
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension of Christ. The importance of this historical event, is that Christ ascended into Heaven as man and as God. Having condescended to take on our flesh, becoming both perfect man, and, at the same time, perfect God, he never put off His manhood, but deified it, and made it and us capable of apprehending heavenly things.
The Ascension is important, because those who love God and believe in Him, will join Him in the heavens, in the flesh, just as He now abides in the Heavens in the flesh. Because of His ascension, our flesh and souls will be saved, for Christ made human flesh capable of deification. As deified creatures, we will live forever, united, both body and soul.
Malcolm Guite offers, unsurprisingly, a beautiful sonnet.
* * * * *
“Liberal education is concerned with the souls of men, and therefore has little or no use for machines … [it] consists in learning to listen to still and small voices and therefore in becoming deaf to loudspeakers.” (Leo Strauss)