Thursday, May 17, 2007

what ascension day means for my faith

Today is Ascension Day, when the church remembers, and affirms, as it says in the Apostles Creed:

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord …
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

Practically, today, I am glad that

God in Jesus is present through all time and space. The Jesus of the Gospels was bound in a Jewish body and timezone. After the resurrection we catch glimpses of a change of mode, for the Resurection body is a bit of a shape-shifter. Jesus can defy space by moving through walls and can defy time by moving quickly from place to place. The Ascension suggests this movement through time and space is now complete and that the Jesus we worship is now present at all times and in all space. He is both outside time, yet inside time. (This is speculative, but I wonder if this might be why many cultures narrate pre-Christian encounters with Jesus-type images and figures. Could it be that the resurrection body of Jesus appeared not just in Galilee and Judea, but also in pre-Christian New Zealand etc?)

A human body now live with God. Jesus, born as a baby, was God en-flesh, choosing to limit his divinity in order to endwell humanity. This gives dignity to our bodies, our armpits and our noses, our sweat glands and our bottoms. The Ascension of Jesus has no record of the human body of Jesus folding up like a sack of skin on the ground. Instead we have the nail scarred hands been taken to heaven. This means that human sweat glands and bottoms are seated with God, caught into a Trinity of love. God has embraced humanity. The celebration of human bodies is complete.

Faith without sight is now the normal way to follow Jesus. We are called to walk with no God in visible sight. We are called to believe in the guidance of God’s Spirit, to humbly seek discernment, to trust our intuition and seek wisdom through the body of God. Faith without sight, flying blind in some sort of fog, is our normal Christianity.

God’s people are the primary hermeneneutic of the Gospel. Into the gap left by the loss of Jesus, comes the infilling Spirit of God, who forms us as the new Body of God. All the gospels record Jesus commissioning his disciples (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:48, John 20:22-23. Why the church has chosen to prioiritise Matthew 28 is a matter for another post). We are now the hands and feet of Jesus. God has no body on earth but ours.

The end of the Matrix movie captures this best. Neo soars into heaven, leaving the message that the freedom he has won now needs to be completed. The church as the body of God, has transcended time and culture and countries in a way that no one human could ever do. On Ascension Day I renew my commitment to embody Jesus.

Posted by steve at 02:38 PM


  1. very nicely said. I like your scriptural lens.

    of course the Mormons also say that Jesus DID appear elsewhere… and a whole lot later on… you raise an interesting question though. who else has seen the risen, pre-ascended Jesus?

    Comment by Craig — May 18, 2007 @ 10:00 pm

  2. The first point really captured my interest:
    many cultures narrate pre-Christian encounters with Jesus-type images and figures.

    Can you give some links to resources on this?


    Comment by mih — May 22, 2007 @ 3:49 am

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