“In Protestant churches,” wrote Edward T. Horn III in The Christian Year, “Ascension Day and the Epiphany … are the forgotten festivals of the church.” In part this is because they fall on weekdays and Protestants seem to have an aversion to attending church on any other day but Sunday. Also, the Epiphany is lost in the luster of Christmas and the Ascension is often overlooked because of enthusiastic preparations for Mother’s Day. The result is that millions of American Protestants fail to observe the days set aside to mark the beginning and the end of Christ’s ministry.
We remember what we find significant, and Ascension Day has become a forgotten festival because the Ascension has become a dead doctrine. May 15 will be a a silent Thursday in thousands of churches because the importance of the Ascension has escaped us. Perhaps it is high time for Christians to take a second look at the event and make it a day to remember. If we do so, we will find that Ascension Day is significant in the Scriptures, in the story of the Church, and in the development of systematic theology, and that it is surprisingly relevant to the needs of the Church today.
References to the Ascension are found in both testaments and in both Gospel and Epistle. The event was foreshadowed in the Old Testament in the translation of Enoch (Gen 5:24) and in the ascension of Elijah (2 Kings 2:9–15). It was foretold in prophecy and was praised by David in the Psalter (for example, Psalms 47 and 68). Prior to the crucifixion, Christ predicted his ascension (John 7:33, 34). The first three Gospels conclude with accounts of the Ascension (Matt. 28:16–20; Mark 16:19, 20; Luke 24:50–53), and the fourth Gospel, ...1
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