Ascension and the Sanctification of Matter  

Posted by Joe Rawls in

We honor today's feast of the Ascension with an excerpt from The Incarnate God, by John V Taylor (Continuum 2003).  Taylor was the Anglican bishop of Winchester and a rather atypical evangelical theologian.  A hat-tip to Episcopal Cafe.

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So that he might fill the universe the Christ was emptied to the last drop of self.  But in his ascended glory he remains man.  Dare we believe that?  If incarnation did something to God, ascension did something to matter.  This was the culmination of the stupendous process we call creation.  The God who went to such infinite pains in the making and development of electronic systems, molecules, and chemicals, metal, rocks and living cells, structured forms and responsive nerves, did not at the final stage abandon matter; he liberated it.

The ascension of Christ promises the transfiguration of matter, its divinization, as the Orthodox Churches have never ceased to teach.  The physical will glow with God like metal enveloped and permeated by fire.  "The universe itself is to be freed from the shackles of mortality and enter upon the liberty and splendor of the children of God" (Romans 8:21).  That is the end to which we aspire.  And the way is the way of descent, the way of the death of self, again and again, the way of the broken bread shared with all, of the scarred hands that hold the world.

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 2, 2011 at Thursday, June 02, 2011 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

5 comments

Fabulous. Thanks, Joe.

June 2, 2011 at 11:13 PM

The Ascension, it seems, completes or brings to fulfillment the Nativity. I see the Nativity and Ascension as mirror images. In Christ deified humanity has been enthroned next to God and our homeland is in heaven. Our deepest identity is as "heavenlings" not simply "earthlings."

Peace, <ike+

June 3, 2011 at 6:21 AM

The Ascension, it seems, completes or brings to fulfillment the Nativity. I see the Nativity and Ascension as mirror images. In Christ deified humanity has been enthroned next to God and our homeland is in heaven. Our deepest identity is as "heavenlings" not simply "earthlings."

Peace, Mike+

June 3, 2011 at 6:22 AM

Thanks, Joe, for reminding us that, given the Ascension (as one movement of the Incarnation), matter matters. We must guard against the perrenial temptation to be more spiritual than God.

June 3, 2011 at 5:18 PM
Bhagavannath  

Also, the Ascension indicates the meaning of sacrament - union of matter and sacredness.

July 2, 2011 at 11:08 AM

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