Alleluia! Christ the Lord ascendeth into heaven;
* O come, let us adore Him. Alleluia!
A special thanks to all of you who walked Wednesday night. There is hardly a more important work than bathing the world in prayer.
I was grateful for all who were able to attend the Ascension Service last night. All of the clergy from all three parishes were there. Trinity Church offered their very warm hospitality. As part of the service five people were received as Novitiates (Novices) into the Third Order Secular fraternity of the Order of St. Francis of the Divine Compassion. I am told the homily was pretty decent as well. The wonderful sense of God’s presence among us and His great goodness were very tangible.
Ascension is one of the ‘big’ feasts of the Christian year. Historically, it was third after Easter and the Nativity. I surmise its downfall in America is due to the very uncomfortable implications regarding the person of Christ, His crown rights over all of Creation, and the enormous significance of Jesus, the Son of God and God the Son as the Heir of all things.
The Ascension begins Ascensiontide or the season from the Feast of the Ascension to the Feast of Pentecost.
The first eight days are traditionally called an ‘octave’ (pronounced – ahk’ – tayv) meaning eight (days). Eight is the biblical number of new beginnings, new creation, resurrection, new life. This collect for Ascension Day is used everyday during the Octave of the Ascension:
GRANT, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that like as we do believe thine only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into the heavens; so we may also in heart and mind thither ascend, and with him continually dwell, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
Jesus instructs His disciples about the first Ascensiontide. “And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
The disciples stayed in Jerusalem and “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.”
Let us live the story with the these men and women and pray during the next nine days traditional prayers for each day. Isaiah describes Messiah and the Spirit of the Lord resting on Him:
11 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
2 And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
and faithfulness the belt of his loins.
Each day in Ascensiontide we will offer incense from this altar as we hunger and thirst for the Spirit’s power and presence to dwell evermore with us and in us. Here is the fist prayer of nine we will offer daily as we count down to Pentecost:
Almighty and eternal God, Who hast vouchsafed to regenerate us by water and the Holy Spirit, and hast given us forgiveness all sins, vouchsafe to send forth from heaven upon us your sevenfold Spirit, the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and Fortitude, the Spirit of Knowledge and Piety, and fill us with the Spirit of Holy Fear. Amen.