Collect For Ascension Day
“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.”
Today is Ascension Day, which occurs 40 days after Easter Sunday. On Ascension Day we celebrate Christ’s physical ascent into heaven in the presence of his disciples(Acts 1). This cosmic act was a public demonstration of his exaltation above all things in space and time and kingly power over all things in heaven and on earth. His ascension was a signal to his creation that his time of humiliation was over, the time to manifest his eternal glory and authority over his creation had begun. As Brian Hedges notes, “While on earth, He was a servant. Now in heaven, He is the ruler and Lord of all. By entering heaven as the representative of mankind, He completed the work of our salvation and guarantees the eventual glorification of all who love Him. Just as Jesus went up in the clouds, He will return the same way.”
Our ascended Lord is in heaven seated at the right hand of the Father from where he is now exercising authority over us and over all things, pouring out the Holy Spirit upon his church, applying and guaranteeing to us the blessings of the New Covenant sealed by his blood, and continually interceding and advocating for us before the Father against the accusations of the enemy of our souls. We have a friend and a formidable advocate in heaven. We have a great high priest in heaven praying for us. He will return to bring the fullness of salvation and restoration to all of creation.
Until he returns in glory to restore all things and give us the foulness of our inheritance, we need to pay heed to the following words of Paul the Apostle to the Church :
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and in a godly manner in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” – (Titus 2:11-13).
In this passage, Paul makes two assertions that those who are looking forward to the return of the ascended Christ must pay heed.
First, Paul asserts that Christ is the personification of God’s saving grace for all kinds of people. As Paul note, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people”. Our Decade of Evangelism is a reminder to us to pray for those who do not know Christ because only in Christ alone can sinners like us receive eternal salvation from eternal hell and from Satan’s bondage and be reconciled to God. Sadly, many are still deceived in believing that there are other ways and that’s wrong because our Lord Jesus Christ said in John 14:6 “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” So pray that the Lord will open their eyes to this reality and draw them to himself so they can experience his amazing love and grace in the salvation of their souls. Pray for yourself that you will not be ashamed of preaching the gospel to your family, friends, and colleagues.
Secondly, Paul asserts that God wants those who believe in Christ as Savior and Lord to live godly and holy lives. Here is Paul, “ instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and in a godly manner in the present age”. Pray that the Lord will give us a hunger and a passion for godliness(orientation toward God in thought, word, and deed) and the ability to live holy every day of our lives. The Bible says that without holiness no man shall see the Lord. The evidence that we are saved from sin is faith in Christ and the holiness of life. As John Calvin notes “Holiness is the goal of our calling. Therefore we must consistently set our sights upon holiness if we would rightly respond to God’s calling. To what purpose did God pull us out of the wickedness and pollution of this world—wickedness, and pollution in which we were submerged—if we allow ourselves to wallow in such wickedness and pollution for the rest of our lives? Furthermore, if we count ourselves among God’s people, Scripture tells us to live as citizens of the holy city of Jerusalem, which He has consecrated to Himself. It’s shameful that the citizens of the holy city should pollute it with their impurity. Thus, we read that there will be a dwelling place in God’s tabernacle for those who walk blamelessly and pursue righteousness. It’s not right that the sanctuary in which God dwells should resemble a filthy stable.” This message is very urgent for the Christian church in this century. Many of us have lost our bearing. May the Lord have mercy on his church!
I wish you a blessed Ascension Day as you experience the saving grace, comforting peace, and transforming power of our Ascended Lord and Savior!
Bishop Felix Orji, DD
Diocesan | Anglican Diocese of the West