Lots of things have surprised me about Switzerland since moving here, most of them thankfully have been pleasant surprises. One of the most pleasant surprises is that Ascension Day is still celebrated, it is still a big thing in Switzerland. You see in most countries, especially among us Protestants, the Ascension, Jesus return to heaven following His resurrection is all but forgotten. Christmas is huge for the whole of our culture, Easter is a fairly big thing in the Church, Pentecost is getting a bit of a higher profile these days in church but Ascension? All but forgotten. I have to confess that I have never preached a sermon specifically on the Ascension, so I am part of the problem.
The Ascension deserves far more attention than we give it. Tim Chester in his book on the subject draws out some of the practical implications of the Jesus being enthroned in heaven with these words
“When you went to bed last night Jesus was at work subduing his enemies. While you slept he was continuing to rule over the world. He was still at it when you woke up this morning and even now as you read this. That is the outrageous claim of the ascension.”
This week we have Ascension Day on Thursday and Ascension Sunday, on Sunday, funnily enough. For most people around us here in Switzerland its a long weekend and time off with family and friends and that is about all it means. I wanted Ascension to be different for us as a church. I want us to celebrate the Ascension this week, the most neglected of Christian celebrations. In a spirit of repentance for my neglect of the Ascension in the past I am going to preach about the Ascension specifically for the first time this Sunday.
I am also going to do something a wee different in this digest piece, I am going to ask you to watch two videos. The first is by Dr Steve Seamands. Steve was my theology prof at Asbury Seminary and he has recently written a book about the Ascension called THE UNSEEEN REAL. In the first video Steve explains the Biblical teaching on the Ascension and why it matters. The second video is a version of what I think is the most moving off all songs about the Ascension, BEFORE THE THRONE OF GOD ABOVE
So here is what I am asking you to do. Grab a coffee (or relaxing drink of your choice) get seated comfortably and listen to Steve explain why the Ascension matters then have a few moments reflection on what Steve has said and watch the second video and use it as a vehicle of worship to help you express to God your thankfulness that Jesus is seated at His right hand, interceding for you
Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Romans 8:34