I. I noticed on the “marquee” of the nearby Franklin Middle School that they will be celebrating, not a graduation, but a “Promotion” ceremony in June. As one facet of the Easter mystery, the Ascension is a celebration of Jesus’ promotion, if you will. His mission and ministry done, and done well, he takes his seat at the right hand of God.
II. Eventually, too, we will be promoted and go where Jesus has gone. But in the meantime, we’re told, as were the apostles, not to stand idly gaping up into the heavens. The Ascension is a turning point. It is the moment when Jesus handed over his mission and ministry to his disciples. It is a moment when we, also Jesus’ disciples, can remind ourselves of our mission and ministry. Our Ascension Mission Statement reads that we are committed to providing a safe, loving, holy place where all are invited to recognize, acknowledge, and live God’s presence. We are commissioned to use Jesus’ power within us, and direct our eyes, not up, but into the world, into the earthbound faces of the suffering and the weary, and walk with them to a life that transcends the only life they’ve known: a “better place” of healing and freedom—until we are all promoted, arriving at our final destiny, that “even better place.”
III. When we learned to ride a bicycle, Mom or Dad was there to steady the bike, until we learned to get the pedals, handlebars, and our scrawny limbs all working together. We relied on their strong, supporting hand, without which, we’d fall and go boom. At long last came that momentous ride when Mom or Dad took their hand away, and we discovered, for the first time, that the balance and power that was in their hand could be found in our own bodies.
Finding in our own bodies the balance and power of God’s hand: That’s the grace of the Ascension.