Keyword Search

  • Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company
    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

Ascension Of The Lord (Cycle A, B, C)

The Ascension of the Lord texts in Luke-Acts (Luke 24:44-53 and Acts 1:1-11) accomplish four major objectives. First, they provide an explanation of where the Risen Christ is now. Second, they provide an explanation of why the Risen Christ was seen by many followers of Jesus during the first few weeks after his crucifixion and resurrection but is being seen in the same way no longer. Third, they provide assurance that the Risen Christ is still with us spiritually and that the Risen Christ will return. Finally, they establish more clearly the responsibilities of the followers of Jesus to be witnesses of the Risen Christ throughout the world.

These are very important objectives, and we miss our opportunity to follow through with a dramatic culmination of our forty-day Lenten season and of our forty-day Easter season if we do not have a meaningful and memorable worship service on Ascension Day each year.

Psalm 47

Our use of this psalm on our Christian Ascension Day is an indication that we consider the Risen Christ to be our Lord and God in a way that is quite similar to the way that the ancient Israelites perceived the Lord God for them. They perceived the Lord God to be the one who had won the victory for them over their enemies and over all evil and as the one who was, as it is stated in the picturesque language of this psalm, “sitting on the holy throne of God” the “Most High King over all of the earth.” As Christians, we perceive Jesus the Risen Christ in much the same way as the Lord God was and is perceived and acclaimed by Israelites and by Jews in Psalm 47.

Psalm 93

There are numerous similarities between Psalm 47 and Psalm 93. The Lord is acclaimed in Psalm 93 as the king clothed with power and majesty, whose throne is established eternally. The Lord’s rule is holy and just and will be for ever.

Acts 1:1-11

Since the principal literary antecedent of Acts 1:1-11 is the Septuagint text of 2 Kings 2:1-18, it is helpful to review the 2 Kings text in preparation for a Christian Ascension Day worship service. Genesis 5:21-24 and Deuteronomy 34:1-7 should also be read to provide the Enoch and Moses analogies.

We note that the inspired Lukan writer linked the Ascension account closely to the Lukan empty tomb account by having “two men clothed in white robes” interpreting the significance of the ascension of the Risen Christ in Acts 1:10-11 just as the Lukan writer had “two men in dazzling apparel” interpret the significance of the resurrection of Jesus in Luke 24:4-7. Perhaps we could benefit from the use of this Acts 1:1-11 drama best if we would begin the Ascension Day service outside the church building with the reading of this Acts 1:1-11 text. It would not be necessary for anyone to play the role of the Risen Christ, but it would help to dramatize the event with two of the men of the congregation dressed in white robes appearing from around a corner somewhere at the point of Acts 1:10 in the reading while the rest of those gathered for the worship service are standing together “gazing up into the heavens.” The two men should appear and say to the group, “Why are you all standing here, looking up into the heavens? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come again as you have seen him going into the heavens!” The worship service can then continue with the people entering into the sanctuary, singing an Ascension Day hymn, and using an Ascension Day liturgy.

Ephesians 1:15-23

At least once during our three-year cycle in the lectionary that we are using, it would be effective to utilize this Ephesians 1:15-23 reading as the primary text for the Ascension Day message. This text articulates what is desired for the People of God in the Church on Ascension Day. It refers specifically to the thought that the Risen Christ is sitting at the right hand of God in “the heavenly places.” It uses the analogy of the ancient throne scene to depict how some people in the early Church late in the first century perceived the Risen Christ. What is said here about the power of the Risen Christ over the Roman Emperor and all of the political authorities who are persecuting and threatening the early Christians should be emphasized as we consider this text.

Luke 24:44-53

The Lukan themes of understanding the Scriptures and of claiming that everything about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection written in the Israelite Scriptures has now been fulfilled are prominent in this text. What the Lukan writer did not say in this text about the expected return of Jesus as the Risen Christ is supplied in the Acts 1:1-11 reading. What Luke 24:44-53 does stress is the great joy of the followers of Jesus and their constant worship and blessing of God. Let us continue this joy and this worship and blessing of God for the Risen Christ now and always!

Leave a Reply

  • Get Your FREE 30-day Trial Subscription to SermonSuite NOW!
    Chris Keating
    The Double-Dog Dare Days of August
    August’s lazy, hazy dog days quickly became a deadly double-dog dare contest between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un, the supreme leader of North Korea. Both nations have been at odds with each other for nearly 70 years. During his working golf vacation in New Jersey last week, President Trump responded to North Korea’s rhetorical sword-rattling by launching a verbal preemptive strike of his own.
         Call it the Bedminster bombast, or the putt that rocked Pyongyang. But the duel between the two countries is more than fodder for late-night comedians. It’s a deadly standoff with history-changing repercussions.
         There is no vacation from matters of national security, or the orations of war. Indeed, much of the war of words between Washington and North Korea seems to confirm Jesus’ counsel in Matthew: “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” The contrasts between these barbed exchanges and the biblical understanding of peacemaking offers an intriguing opportunity to hear Jesus’ words in a world filled with double-dog (and even triple-dog) dares....more
    Feeding The 5,000
    The assigned Gospel text for this week skips over a couple of sections in Matthew's story. Matthew 14:34-36 cites Jesus' journey to Gennesaret. The crowds of people recognized him immediately and all of the sick came to him for healing. Just a touch of Jesus' garment brought healing to many. The crowd in Gennesaret recognized Jesus. They came to him in their need....more
    Wayne Brouwer
    Religious balkanization
    One dimension of religious life we have in common across faith traditions and denominational lines is the incessant divisiveness that split our seemingly monolithic communities into dozens of similar yet tenaciously varied subgroups. A Jewish professor of psychology said of his tradition, "If there are ten Jewish males in a city we create a synagogue. If there are eleven Jewish males we start thinking about creating a competing synagogue."...more
    C. David McKirachan
    Jesus Is Coming, Look Busy
    Isaiah 56:1, 6-8
    I had a parishioner who would walk out of the sanctuary if he saw a djembe (African drum) out in front to be used in worship.  I asked him about it, in a wonderfully pastoral manner, and he told me that things like that didn’t belong in worship.  I said that it was in the bible to praise God with pipes and drums (I think it is).  He told me he didn’t care what the Bible said, he knew where that thing came from and he wouldn’t have it.  I asked him why things from Africa would bother him.  He told me that he knew I was liberal but that didn’t mean he had to be.  I agreed with him but cautioned him that racism was probably one of the worst examples of evil in our world and I thought he should consider what Christ would think of that.  He asked me who paid my salary, Christ or good Americans....more
    Janice Scott
    No Strings Attached
    In today's gospel reading, Jesus seemed reluctant to heal the Canaanite woman's daughter. He told her that he wasn't sent to help foreigners, but only his own people, the Chosen Race. The words sound unnecessarily harsh, but perhaps this is an interpretation unique to Matthew, for this story only appears in Matthew's gospel, which was written for Jews....more
    Arley K. Fadness
    Great Faith
    Object: Hula Hoop or circle made out of ribbon, twine or rope
    What an amazing morning to come to church today. I am so glad to see you and talk to you about a wonderful story from the bible. Let me begin by showing you this circle. Now let's get into this circle. (Physically, all move into the circle) It's fun for us all to be together in this circle. We don't want anyone to be left out. To be left out is to be sad. To be kept out is even more sad and painful....more

Authors of
Lectionary Scripture Notes
Norman A. Beck is the Poehlmann Professor of Theology and Classical Languages and the Chairman of the Department of Theology, Philosophy, and Classical Languages at Texas Lutheran University
Dr. Norman A. Beck
Mark Ellingsen is professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia
Dr. Mark Ellingsen