“When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.” Luke 24:50-53
Two weeks ago the world waited with bated breath as the British royal family of Prince William—second in line to the throne of England behind his father Prince Charles—and his wife, Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, were about to welcome their third child into the world. Even in America, news of the British royal family captivates our attention like no other country’s royalty on earth. Then on Monday, April 23rd, 2018, Kate gave birth to their third child, a son named Louis.
For my entire life—38 years—there has not been a king seated on the throne of England. That position has been vacant since King George VI died on February 6, 1952—66 years, 3 months, 2 days ago and counting (5/8/2018). From that moment on, the monarchy of Britain has been headed by his daughter, Queen Elizabeth II. At age 92, she is the longest-lived and longest-reigning British monarch.
Lord knows how many more years Queen Elizabeth has in her, yet we can be sure that, when the time of her passing comes, following a period of mourning at her death, there will be a very big to-do at the coronation of the next king of Britain. If the birth of the 5th in line to the throne is enough to garner worldwide attention and media obsession, how much more so the return of a king to Britain!
Five months ago, many Christians throughout the world remembered the moment when our holy King of heaven stepped off his throne and came to earth. Normally a king leaving his throne is a cause for mourning. Yet we rejoiced once more at Christmastime as our God become one of us and one with us by taking on human flesh and blood. Then, at the end of March, we celebrated with somber joy his sacrifice for our sins. A few days later, we let loose with Alleluia’s (“Praise the Lord!”’s) at his victory over the grave.
Now, on this Thursday, May 10th, the 40th day after our resurrection celebrations, we remember the completion of Jesus’ earthly ministry. It is a lesser-known festival of the Christian church called Ascension. For it was 40 days after Jesus rose from the dead that he ascended into heaven from the Mt. of Olives. That day was his coronation day.
When Jesus ascended, what do we see the disciples doing? Not weeping at the loss of Jesus, but celebrating his coronation. They returned the short, Sabbath-walk to Jerusalem with great joy. They worshiped him. They frequented the temple, praising God.
Granted, Ascension doesn’t receive much attention these days. Because it’s not commercialized, because our society isn’t built around this holiday, it might easily pass us by without any notice. Will you be texting your friends or calling them to wish them a happy Ascension? And if on the off-shot chance you do, might they be more than a little surprised at your well-wishes?
And yet, this is perfect for us. Here is a sacred holiday that hasn’t been hijacked by American consumerism. It is a day that we can celebrate simply for what it is—Jesus returning to his throne—without the distractions of parties, gifts, or Easter baskets. So if you haven’t made plans already, take some time out to worship Jesus this Ascension. Or maybe incorporate your plans into your worship planning. Praise and celebrate the one who has returned to his throne and rules over all things for the good of his church.
Crown him with many crowns,
The Lamb upon his throne;
Hark how the heav’nly anthem drowns
All music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing
Of him who died for thee,
And hail him as they matchless King
Through all eternity.
Crown him the Lord of heav’n,
Enthroned in worlds above;
Crown him the King to whom is giv’n
The wondrous name of Love.
Crown him with many crowns
As thrones before him fall;
Crown him, ye kings, with many crowns
For he is King of all.
“Crown Him with Many Crowns” vv. 1,4
Nota Bene: In years past, St. Peter’s of Eldorado and St. Luke’s of Oakfield have joined together in a joint celebration of Ascension. Due to a pastoral vacancy at St. Luke’s, there will be no joint Ascension service this year. Those in the Eldorado area wishing to celebrate Ascension at a Divine Service are encouraged to attend a 6:30 pm service at either St. Paul, NFdL or Redeemer FdL.