I love this day for all sorts of reasons: it is the culmination of Christ’s ministry, it is the next stage of God’s mission, and it tells us one of the most life-changing truths of our faith, that there is now a human being residing within the Trinity. Think of it – one of the members of the Trinity has opposable thumbs, DNA strands, blood and a nose. And so, the ascension of Jesus – very human, very God – is our guarantee that one day we, too, will know and enjoy the beauty, grace and love that inhabits the Trinity. It’s the life we were always meant for.
And one final reason to love Ascension Day? It’s the one Christian holiday that has no parallel celebration, historically or culturally. It flies completely under the radar of our culture, and therefore isn’t likely to be commercialized or commodified. It might be the purest Christian holiday to celebrate.
Listen to N.T. Wright on this:
Jesus is Lord – This, of course, is the great truth that Christians celebrate in the Ascension. Jesus is exalted as the Lord of the cosmos, supreme over all the powers. It is perhaps significant that this is virtually the only Christian festival that has no pagan analogue, and which has not been taken over by the pagan materialistic forces that wreak havoc with Christmas and Easter. The shops do not fill up with Ascension presents, nor can you buy cards saying ‘”Happy Ascension to my Dear Granny.” Perhaps (although it would be risky) Christians should begin to celebrate the Ascension more explicitly. Presents or cards might be exchanged, but preferably homemade and symbolic ones, not ones that merely reinforced the prevailing materialism. There is room for new family festivals to be created around this season, parallel with Christmas or Easter celebrations but taking care, again, to avoid collapsing back into paganism. Here is scope for imagination and experiment. (N.T. Wright, Bringing the Church to the World)
So how to celebrate Ascension Day? Well go find a worships service near you. And if those are in short supply, try this great Ascension day practice – go fly a kite. Gather up your kids, or your child-like spirit, and set a kite to flight. Watch it flutter and unfurl in the wind, catch sail and soar in the sky. Imagine what it must’ve been like for those disciples doing just what you’re doing, gawking up into the sky.
And then hear the question of the angel: “Why do you stand here looking into the sky?” It’s a “don’t just stand there” missional question because the ascension thrusts the church on its mission, announcing and inaugurating the reign of Jesus in the whole world.
So go fly a kite already.