Wednesday, May 8, 2013
The Easter season is slowly coming to a close. Pentecost Sunday, the last day of Easter, will be on May 19 this year.
In many places in the world this coming Sunday will be the celebration of the Ascension. In other places, including my own diocese, it will be observed as the 7th Sunday of Easter, Ascension having been celebrated this Thursday, May 9. (In the United States, only the ecclesiastical provinces of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, and Omaha, NE continue to celebrate the Ascension on the 4oth day after Easter, always a Thursday.)
You'll find the readings for both observances and commentary on them here. The Sadlier site provides hints for helping children prepare to hear the Ascension readings here and the readings for the 7th Sunday of Easter here.
The texts for the 7th Sunday of Easter include the story of the martyrdom of Stephen in the early days of the Church. You'll do well to open your bible and read Chapter 7 of the Acts of the Apostles to better understand the portion of that story in Sunday's first lesson. The second lesson gives us the last verses of the Book of Revelation and thus the last verses of the canon of Christian scriptures - and beautiful words they are! The gospel, another passage from Jesus' farewell discourse at the Last Supper, is the Lord's prayer over the gathered apostles and thus also a prayer over all of us, apostles in these later times. This prayer's for you!
The texts for Ascension include the passage which opens St. Luke's Acts of the Apostles, in which is found a description of Jesus ascending to the Father, forty days after Easter. The Ascension gospel, also from Luke, has Jesus ascending to the Father on Easter Sunday night! Clearly, Luke's agenda here is spiritual and not historical. The Lectionary gives two options for the second lesson. The first is a blessing from Ephesians which refers to Jesus being seated at his Father's right hand in the heavens. The second option is from Hebrews and reminds us that Jesus has ascended to the heavenly sanctuary and has paved the way for us to be there, too.
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Posted by Austin Fleming at 12:16 PM