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Ascend With Christ

Thursday, May 13, 1999 will be Ascension Day. The collect for Ascension Day is very meaningful. It reads:
Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty
God, that like as we do believe
thy 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.
(BCP p. 182)
I would call your attention to one phrase, which says, “... so we may also in heart and mind thither ascend, and with him dwell....” We cannot at this time ascend with Christ physically, but we may spiritually and mentally. We may in a sense live in heaven now. This collect expresses the sentiments and desires of a truly devout Christian.

The collects in the prayerbook are always based on Scripture. What is the Scriptural basis for this prayer? The biblical inspiration is found in St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians, chapter 3, verses 1&2. St. Paul wrote, “If you then be raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth.”

Note that there is a prerequisite to ascending with Christ. Before we can ascend with Christ we must have been raised with Christ. A spiritual resurrection is a precondition to a spiritual ascension. St. Paul expressed this well in another letter where he wrote, “But God who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is a gift of God....” (Ephesians 2:4-8) If we have been resurrected with Christ through a faith union with Him then we may and should ascend with our Lord spiritually.

How may this ascension happen? The apostle tells us in Colossians to seek and to set.

First, we are to seek the things that are above. What are those thing? Chiefly among them would be God’s will. Our Lord taught us to pray, “... Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven....” Do we seek God’s will above all else and in everything? Heaven is also a place where God is honored. In heaven the angels and saints continually praise God. Do we seek to bring honor to His holy name? Do all of our actions honor Him? To ascend to heaven is to seek to emulate on earth and in our lives those things that are taking place in heaven, i.e., God’s will being done and God’s name being honored.

In the second place St. Paul tells the Church to, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth.” J.B. Lightfoot commented, “You must not only seek heaven; you must also think heaven....”

What should characterize the thought life of a Christian? In writing to the Philippians St. Paul discussed this issue. The apostle wrote, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus....” (Phil. 2:1-5) We as Christians are to strive to think the way Christ thinks.

What sort of thoughts are those? Later in this same letter St. Paul expands this point by saying, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Phil. 4:8) Do we think this way? Or do we allow our thoughts to be dominated by anxiety, self-centeredness, bitterness, resentment, etc.? St. Paul said that it was his practice to “...take every thought captive to obey Christ....” (II Cor. 10:56) That is good advice for all of us.

As Christians we await the return of our Savior Jesus Christ. On that great day He will resurrect those who have died in the faith. The Lord will also establish His eternal Kingdom of righteousness and peace. But while we await the Second Advent, which was promised by the angels at Christ’s Ascension, we can and should ascend to heaven with Him now in our hearts and in our minds.

by Rev. Frank M. Levi


Parish News
On Sunday, March 28, 1999 four new members were added to the parish register. We welcome John & Elizabeth Horn along with Louis & Mildred Buescher and pledge to them our prayers and support.

The Lenten season ended with the annual Good Friday Service on Friday evening, April 2, 1999. We thank all who faithfully attended the services.

Easter Sunday began with a lovely breakfast prepared by the Woman’s Guild and served in the Parish Hall. A group of the preschool children sang several songs at the breakfast. We thank the children and their parents for coming. Thanks also to the ladies of the Woman’s Guild for the delicious breakfast.

The Easter Breakfast was followed by the Service of Holy Communion. The rector was assisted by the Rev. Deacon Kenneth Rick. The choir under the direction of Mrs. Shirley Drobnak sang beautifully. Several adults and children were added to the choir for this service. We thank all who participated helping to make this a most meaningful service.


MOTHER/DAUGHTER SALAD SUPPER

The Woman’s Guild invites all ladies to the Mother/Daughter “Salad Supper”
Saturday, May 1, 1999, 5:30 p.m. in the Parish Hall

Happy Birthday!
May 17 - Walter Sellers
May 25 - Jeffrey Stultz

Missionary of The Month

Domestic Missions
Pray for the Rev. & Mrs. Paul Howden (Beth) and their children, Malachai, Mark, Timothy and Charissa. St. Luke’s Reformed Episcopal Church. Santa Ana, CA.

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” Acts 2:4 NIV


May 13, 1999-Ascension Day
On Ascension Day
by Marion Schoeberlein

The clouds caressed Him on that day
When over the hills and far away
Christ went to heaven to prepare
A home for Christians everywhere

He left disciples, lonely then,
With a commission to teach to men
Of all He did and all He said;
The resurrection of the dead.

They saw Him lifted to the sky.
The Christ whose love would never die,
But even though He must depart
His memory stayed inside their heart.

Now each year on Ascension Day,
We look to heaven too, and pray,
That our ascended Lord will be
Forever in our memory.


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