"So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’" Acts 1:6-14our guest preacher, Fr. Diggs, repeatedly attacked those who would demythologize the ascension of Jesus. One phrase our preacher used that caught my ear was, "The Ascension is the Incarnation in reverse." This scored big points with yours truly, but some were put off by the 22 minute length of his sermon.
The Ascension and its feast day are neglected by many as evidenced by our tiny Sunday attendance and our lack of a dedicated service on the day itself. Easter and Christmas pack 'em in, but the Ascension Sunday parking lot usually has plenty of open spaces.
Why is it that the Ascension of Jesus gets the short shrift? One has to look at the modern worldview:
1) Heaven is no longer considered to be a place in the sky.I'll give our guest preacher two thumbs up for his apologetic.
2) The early Christians made the story up.
3) People don't rise up into the sky without a rocket motor.
As he reminded the congregation today, "You say it every time you repeat the Nicene Creed, 'He ascended into Heaven.'"
How can the same people who claim to believe in the incarnation deny the ascension?