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  • Writer's pictureSherry Johnston

Are You Up For It?

How was your Easter?

Don't you just love the celebration of our Risen Lord?

The joy and triumph! The hope and promise! I love that we celebrate in Spring when everything is fresh and new!

Good Friday is harder. The pain and grief, the cost and guilt. The overwhelming love of such a sacrifice! I think this is why Jesus instructs His disciples to celebrate the sacrifice. He doesn't ask us to remember His birthday. The one event He asks, no commands, us to celebrate is His death. And by extension, His resurrection, but it is the bread and the wine that is to keep our focus. Probably because He knew we wouldn't need to be told. He knew how much we would love celebrating Easter!

I want to go one step further and suggest we add another holiday celebration to our schedule, one that, in our culture, is often overlooked.

Acts 1: 9 -11 reads, “After He said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They said, 'Why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go.”

Can you imagine? Really; think about what it was like standing there. It's been a little over a month since Jesus died and your hope was crushed. Your mind was blown when you realized He is alive again. Now, as you are getting used to having Him back … Whoosh!

The angels crack me up. “Why are you looking in the sky?” What a question? Who wouldn't be looking into the sky? And they say He's coming back the same way? I may never turn my head away from the sky!

But it's not just because it is such an astonishing occurrence that I'd like to commemorate the ascension.

While Jesus did not instruct us to remember this day, He did mention it with joy and anticipation. John records Him telling His disciples that if they understood just a spec of what it meant for Him to return to the Father, they would rejoice. (John 14:28) Hebrews 12:2 tells us that Jesus “endured the cross for the joy set before Him”. What is the source of that joy but completing His mission and being reunited with His Father while enabling us to go with Him. His joy is for us all to be united. As He rose into heaven and outside of our earthly timeline, that's just what happened and is happening! All of us unified! That's worth celebrating!

“So”, you ask, “what would this holiday look like? More ham? Turkey? Do we have to buy gifts again?”

I'm glad you asked! My limited research didn't reveal much. For many, Ascension Thursday (Easter Sunday + 40 days = Thursday) is a “holy day of obligation”. That doesn't sound like a lot of fun to me, but in Sweden people go for early morning walks looking for clouds that are shaped like lambs. I'd have to incorporate clouds. We could look for lamb clouds and cross clouds. In some parts of Europe, they eat fowl because Jesus flew like a bird into the air. Sounds like a stretch to me, but okay, there's a lot we can do with chicken, other places focus on fruit because Jesus is the “First Fruit of the resurrection”; fruit is good for a summer holiday. I'd like to eat all things that look like clouds: mashed potatoes, whipped cream, cotton candy; the fluffier the better!

I read that the Germans celebrate Father's Day at this time of year and hit on the importance of being in relationship with The or at least, one's father. I like that! We've got a long weekend to play with, so how about family reunions? I envision people getting together with those, from family or otherwise, that they have lost contact with. Or maybe just phone calls. Everyone get's a free pass at starting that conversation that's been put off for way too long. “Hey, I know I haven't spoken to you in a year, but it's Ascension Day, so how are you?”

It's so easy to take those near us for granted. And so easy to dismiss those who are no longer in our circles. A day to acknowledge those who are “fellow passengers from the cradle to the grave”, as Dickens put it, would do all our hearts good! God “prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Psalm 23:5) Ascension Day could be a chance to look up from my own plate to really see those God has put around me at the table.

Mostly I'd like to see a weekend, or a day when we would take to heart the realization that Jesus is truly coming back and the joy it will be to be united with Him and all the believers of all time.

Let me know if you have Ascension Day traditions. It falls on May 9th this year, I'd love to hear if you decide to start something!

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