Ascension and Adoration  

Posted by Joe Rawls in

In my neck of the ecclesiastical woods, at least, it is rare for the Feast of the Ascension to be celebrated at all, let alone be the subject of theological reflection.  A partial remedy for this can be found in the following passage from The Activities of the Ascended Lord (London, 1891), by Anglican theologian George Body (1840-1911), a "Catholic Evangelical" who served at Durham Cathedral and at King's College, London.  Body points out the implications of Jesus' ascension for Christian worship, a topic which had never occurred to me before.

It can be found on pp 497-498 of the invaluable Love's Redeeming Work:  The Anglican Quest for Holiness (Oxford University Press 2001) compiled by Geoffrey Rowell, Kenneth Stevenson, and Rowan Williams.


But the distinctive worship of the Christian Church is the worship of the Incarnate God, the Man Christ Jesus, Who in our nature is seated at God's Right Hand, and in that nature is by us to be adored.  The Ascension Day marked a distinct crisis in the worship of God both in Heaven and on earth.  Until that mysterious morning when Jesus in His  assumed Humanity passed within the Veil and took His place within the true Holy of Holies, the "Agnus Dei", the great hymn of Christendom, had never rung through the courts of Heaven;  but when the thronging Angels watched the Ascent of the Sacred Humanity of Jesus--and saw its mysterious flight cease only when it was throned on the Right Hand of the Eternal--a new light flashed across their intellects, a new adoration filled their spirits, a new song burst from their lips, a new worship was begun, the worship of Jesus Christ:  "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing!" (Rev v. 12).  And as the Ascension of Jesus formed a crisis in the worship of Heaven, so was it also on earth.  "They worshipped Him"--His very withdrawal from among them, His very elevation to the Throne of God, was the development of new relations between the disciples and their Lord.  As long as He was on the earth the worship of Him was not the principal feature of their life; but as soon as He was withdrawn from them and seated at God's Right Hand in the Heavenly places, the adoration of the Lamb--the worship of Jesus Incarnate, Crucified, Risen, Ascended, Enthroned--the distinctive worship of the Christian Church--began to be.  And a new aspect stood revealed of that holy Eucharist which He had ordained:  it was to be the earthly centre of that glorious worship wherewith, in Heaven, in Paradise, and on earth, the Ascended Jesus is ever adored.

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 17, 2012 at Thursday, May 17, 2012 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .



The Lord ascended into heaven, that He might send the Comforter to the world. the heavens prepared His throne; the clouds His ascent. The angels marveled, beholding a Man more exalted than itself. The Father awaits the Co-eternal One whom He has in His bosom; and the Holy spirit commands all His angels: Lift up your gates, ye princes! All the nations clap their hands, for Christ has gone up to where he was before.

First sticharon of Great Vespers, in the Orthodox Church.

rdr. James Morgan

May 24, 2012 at 3:45 PM

Post a Comment