The BCP

Sunday after Ascension Day

Author: The Revd Dr Peter Toon

Collect

O God, the King of glory, who hast exalted thine only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph unto thy kingdom in heaven: We beseech thee, leave us not comfortless; but send to us thine Holy Ghost to comfort us, and exalt us unto the same place whither our Saviour Christ is gone before, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

Collect Commentary

Forty days after he rose from the dead, the Lord Jesus visibly ascended into the cloud of glory, the Shekinah, the luminous cloud known in the Old Testament as the symbol of the immediate and localised Presence of YHWH, the LORD. The Festival of the Ascension is the climax of the festivals of the Lord Jesus for it celebrates the conclusion of his presence on earth in a form that was visible and touchable and his exaltation to the right hand of the Father in glory to be the King of kings and Lord of lords & the Mediator, Prophet and Priest for his people.

When the Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven, exalted to the right hand of the Father, placed on the seat of authority in heaven and earth as the King of kings and Lord of lords, the angels and archangels, the cherubim and seraphim, sang a new song of praise and joy. For with the arrival of the Son of God with his perfected human nature, all Godís enemies - Satan, sin and death -- had been defeated by him. Thus the exaltation of the Incarnate Son by the Father was a great triumph and the cause of magnificent Hallelujahs! In fact heaven as heaven was transformed by his arrival for through and in him redeemed humanity was now more than welcome there!

For the theme of great triumph see Colossians 2:15 & Psalm 24:7.

Therefore, in the Collect the device of the relative clause [ìwho has exaltedÖ.î] is used to provide the means of remembering before God these pertinent and holy facts about the Lord Jesus as a preparation for earnest petition.

The petition assumes that Christians are living within the ethos and spirituality of the Christian Year and Calendar. A week ahead is the celebration of the Feast of Pentecost, at which, fifty days after the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, the Father, in the Name of this same Lord Jesus, sent the gift of the Holy Ghost to the Church to be the Paracletos (Counsellor/Advocate/Comforter - see John 14-16 & Acts 2) of his people. The Gift comes from heaven in order to lift up the people of God to heaven. There is a divine Descent in order for there to be a human ascent!

So the prayer is offered not only for the receiving of the Gift but also that the Holy Ghost will perform his sanctifying and uplifting work of grace and enable sinners who are earth-bound by nature to become heaven-bound by grace. For the true home of the pilgrim people of God is the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of God.

 

Epistle 1 Peter 4. 7-11

THE end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God: if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth; that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Gospel John 15. 26 - 16. 4

WHEN the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them.