We think of Christmas and the resurrection of Christ as being great events. So we celebrate these with lots of emphasis. But it seems strange we don't think much of Christ's ascension into the clouds and heaven. I became aware of this after one of our early trips to Ukraine where it is commonly celebrated.
While believers celebrated it there, what happened to the Ascension in America? Did we miss the meaning of it or cease to believe it even happened? Here are a couple of reasons scholar Peter Toon suggested as to why we neglect it.
· There has been a revolution in cosmology and scientific teaching in schools causing doubt about even the existence of heaven.
· There have been skeptical forms of Biblical criticism that dampen the idea.
· The secularization of western culture from “in God we trust” to “in self we trust” is making us more “this-worldly.”
I would add that the new Atheism has violently attacked Christianity and especially the miraculous aspects. All these may have diverted our attention away from it's importance.
But, the ascension is the consummation of Christ's earthly work. It is the catalyst that makes the earlier parts of His ministry have renewed meaning. It also had a huge impact on Apostles and the early church. What is so important about the ascension and how are we to understand it? What on earth is Christ doing up there and what difference does it make to me down here? I'm convinced that if we understand it rightly it will give us a much different outlook on our problems, the direction the world is going and how we can face the future.
This Sunday I will give a message on this that I have been cooking on all year. If you can't make it to church then check it out on our Livestream. It could change your perspective. Then in the weeks following I'll be doing a series on the book of Galatians to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation that started on Oct. 31, 1517. More on that later.