This past week I have read with interest, the various comments concerning Ascension Day observance, as offered through Matthew Griffin’s post.
I suppose this is my reflection on that post, given that I am incumbent of the Parish of the Ascension, Mount Pearl, NL. When I arrived in the parish in 2005, my previous emphasis on Ascension Day was relegated to an early morning communion on the Thursday, to commemorate the feast.
Coming to a parish of this name then, it became a big deal for me that we should commemorate the feast of our title. Over the years at the Ascension, we have developed Ascensiontide, which we celebrate from the Monday before Ascension Day, to the Wednesday after. Each year we emphasize aspects of discipleship, service, fellowship and worship. At different times we have had guest speakers offer biblical reflection, youth residential activities, and opportunities for prayer and worship.
This year we have had a Ladies’ Night, and Ascension evening we host our Bishop, as sixteen confirmands affirm their baptismal promises. The sanctuary will be full, and the parish will offer prayer and thanksgiving to God for all that God has done, and all that we can be because of our commitment to the Way of Jesus. Saturday the Men’s Service Club cook and distribute almost 600 lobster dinners. Sunday we have worship that incorporates and enables the entire church family. Next Wednesday we launch our latest Outreach Project, Racing with the Reverend – Take Two (www.theracingreverend.com).
Amid all this service, revelry, outreach, and introspection, there are always challenges.
The reality of Scriptural accounts is that from a literal perspective, this can be difficult for children. Whenever I hear the accounts of the Ascension, I am reminded of classical apotheoses, of Athena Nike, of Augustus Caesar. I can’t help but think that Luke is trying to appeal to the imagery of classical antiquity to explain Jesus’ absence post resurrection. However we begin to address the mystery of the Ascension, we must come to the realization that it is a part of the journey of Jesus, and thus can be celebrated as a part of our faith journey encounter, each and every year. I use this time to make this the “king of feasts” for our parish, inviting parishioners and newcomers to come home, and celebrate.