Today is the Feast of the Ascension.
On March 1, 1845, the Diocese of Maryland’s Convention approved formation of Ascension Church, carving it out of St. John’s Lafayette Square. (The Diocese of Washington wasn’t created until 1895). In June, 1874, financier William W. Corcoran donated land at 12th and Massachusetts, and construction began at the present location.
So Ascension has been in our church’s DNA, if you will, since its inception. It’s traditionally celebrated 40 days after Easter, always on a Thursday (though it’s often translated -- moved -- to the following Sunday). It’s an ancient feast, mentioned by Eusebius in the fourth century and St. Augustine in the fifth century.
Ascension commemorates Jesus’ departure from earth to heaven. It’s described in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 24: 44-53) and in Acts (Acts 1:1-11). It is central to our faith. Jesus, sitting at the right hand of God, advocates for us with God. He offers the promise that our spirits, too, will rise. Most important, He sends the Holy Spirit to us, as he promised.
These days, we reaffirm this in our liturgy. In the Apostles’ Creed, we say, “He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God.” In the Sursum Corda, we pray “Lift up your hearts” to lift our hearts and spirits to commune with the risen God, through the Holy Spirit.
You have a great opportunity to learn more on-line this Sunday, May 24 at 9:15 a.m.
Rev. Dr. Sarah Coakley, our assisting priest and resident theologian, and Dr. William Werpehowski, Chair, Department of Religion, Georgetown University will discuss, “Ascension – What Does it mean for us that Christ ‘Ascended into Heaven?’”
Check out the School of Theology to register for a thought-provoking talk!
And Happy Ascension Day!
The Rev. Frederick Erickson, a retired university professor,