From Sarah Philbrick
It's Ascension Day!
If you're like me, you may be thinking, "Great! Ascension Day! That's when Jesus ascended into heaven after the 40 days he spent on earth after his resurrection...but what is the exact significance of this day?"
Ascension day is important for several reasons, which I discovered more concretely after reading an article written by a friend of Mark Booker, Rector of Church of the Ascension in Washington DC, Chuck B. Colson. I encourage you to read the full article here, as I will be providing just a brief summary of his thoughts.
First, Christ's ascension brings the gospel full circle. Christ came to the earth as both fully God and fully man so that he could die on the cross and be raised from the dead, thus showing God's power and reign over all. Christ's ascension to the right hand of the Father, during which he sends the disciples the Holy Spirit and commissions them to be witnesses to his lordship, shows His authority and enthronement as King.
Second, that Jesus is Lord and King is important in more ways than one. Scripture's numerous proclamations that "Jesus is Lord" is not only important to our understanding of His divinity and rule over our lives; it is preaching the Gospel. As Colson writes, "to proclaim 'Jesus is Lord' is to state a cosmic reality, affirming an office that Jesus occupies, not simply to express a personal opinion." We often affirm that Jesus is Lord and ruler of the earth. But this proclamation is stating that Christ is indeed, right now, sitting at the right hand of the Father, that He is ruling the entire earth, and that He is in control of all.
Finally, we celebrate this day because Christ's ascension to his seat at the right hand of the father enables us to receive his grace. Our sinful selves have died with Christ and now our new bodies have been raised with Christ. God's grace given to us allows us to have life and fulfill our one purpose in life - to follow him and to bear witness to the fact that He is Lord.
Christ's ascension is obviously important to our understanding of the Gospel and lives as Christians. My favorite part of this passage in Acts 1 comes in verse 10-11 after Christ went up into the clouds: "[The disciples] were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 'Men of Galilee,' they said, 'why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."
Our hope is always in Christ, and the Holy Spirit now lives among and within us so that we might do the work that Christ commissioned his followers to do: to proclaim that Christ died and resurrected to give us new life in Him, to receive His grace, and to spread the hope that we have that He will come again to redeem the broken world in which we live. We serve as witnesses of what He has done in redeeming us, what He is doing as King of this earth, and what He will do when he returns again.
I work in research on medicine and spirituality at Dana-Farber and will be going to medical school beginning this summer. I enjoy rowing on a Crew team on the Charles River, cooking meals for people, traveling, and exploring the city by running or biking. My husband, Thomas, and I live in Somerville, where we have weekly discussions about when we should next go to Union Square Donuts.