St Mary’s Church, Billingshurst

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Ascension Day - 5th May

This coming Thursday May 5th you will have two opportunities to celebrate our Lord Jesus Christ's Ascension to heaven here at St Mary's. The first at 11:00 am and also at 19:30 pm. Both services will be lead by the Reverend Yvonne Adam. 
We have included our youth worker Ben Sheldon's blog explaining the reasons why Ascension should be a joyous celebration for the Christian Church. After reading Ben's blog please do join us in giving thanks to God on Thursday for his marvelous plan for our salvation.

Sharon Ashborn & Andrew Colwell
St Mary's Church Wardens

In the Anglican Calendar there are a lot of dates, and maybe you are a bit like me, you get confused about what colour the altar should be dressed in, or what part of the bible people are reading from right now. So just to let you know, it’s okay to be confused!
This time of year we are approaching Ascension. What is Ascension? It’s the time when Jesus was raised up to Heaven having shown himself to the Disciples, and having given them the Great Commandment. After Jesus was raised from the dead he spent time with his Disciples showing them, and teaching them what his purpose had been and would continue to be.
In John 20 verse 17 Jesus tells Mary, “don’t’ cling to me, for I have not yet ascended”. He implies to Mary that yes, he has been raised from the dead, but he isn’t going to be around for a long time so don’t get used to him being, for he is going to be raised up to Heaven.
Later in Acts 1 verse 9 – 11 we read of the Ascension:
“After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white robed men suddenly stood among them. ‘Men of Galilee’, they said, ‘why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go.”
Why is it important to us? If there was no Ascension our faith would be built on a man who came from Heaven, and then died, rose again, but never returned to the Father. I knew someone who once told me; “if they found Jesus’ bones, my faith would be ruined”. I can understand his view at that moment. For if Jesus had never risen to Heaven he wouldn’t be able to be our intercessor, and he would not be sat at the right hand of the Father. Jesus’ raising up to Heaven is important for us, as it’s a sure sign that he has returned to Heaven to speak with the Father on our behalf, and to welcome us home when we enter. Jesus’ body had to have special limitations, he had to be bound by space, and so when he was taken up to Heaven his body could not remain on earth.
Hebrews 1:3 says “When Jesus had made atonement for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Father”, in order for this to be true, Jesus would have had to have been raised to Heaven. In order for Christ to have the authority to pour out his spirit on those who remained on earth, he would have had to have risen, and been seated at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:33). This shows us then, that Jesus had completed the work for our purification.
If Jesus had not been raised up, how could he come back again someday? He wouldn’t be able to. The account of the Ascension is vital to the Easter story, as without it our redeemer, Jesus Christ, would not be able to return, and fulfil the final part of our salvation.
Therefore, the reason that we celebrate Ascension is because it is the fulfilment of Easter. It’s the final part and the beginning of our relationship with Jesus. He is no longer on Earth himself, but his Spirit is with us, and one day he will return, just as he left. What a fantastic day that will be.

God bless,

Ben Sheldon
St Mary's Church Youth Worker