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The Ascension of Our Lord

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

– Acts of the Apostles 1:11

Forty days after Pascha

Holy Scripture Accounts

The Gospels

Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.’ So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.”

– Gospel of Mark 16:14-19

And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.”

– Gospel of Luke 24:50-51

The Acts of the Apostles

“Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”’

– Acts 1:9-11

Troparion (Tone 4)

O Christ God, You have ascended in Glory,
Granting joy to Your disciples by the promise of the Holy Spirit.
Through the blessing they were assured
That You are the Son of God,
The Redeemer of the world!

( audio )

Kontakion (Tone 6)

When You did fulfill the dispensation for our sake,
And unite earth to Heaven:
You did ascend in glory, O Christ our God,
Not being parted from those who love You,
But remaining with them and crying:
I am with you and no one will be against you.

Teaching from the Ascension Icon

Jesus the Messiah, through the Church gathered below Him, will forever remain the source of all good things (indicated by His blessing hand) and wisdom (indicated by the scroll in his other hand). Rising in the glorious circle of His mandorla, He is depicted in a way that resembles icons of the Last Judgment since ‘He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him’ (Revelation 1:7).”

Mary the Theotokos – the temple of the incarnate God – personifies the Church, waiting for the return of her Christ. The icons show her standing between the angels, directly below Christ, with a calm, anchoring stability. This depiction of her with hands stretched out in prayer resembles the Virgin of the Sign icons, which show the Christ-child in a heavenly circle within His mother, bringing divinity to humanity. With this connection in mind, it now looks as if Jesus has risen straight up from His mother and into the sky, bringing humanity to divinity.”

The Holy Angels, in the upper portion of the icon glorify Christ as He rises to heaven. The angels on earth gesture upward, reminding the apostles that Christ will return from heaven in a similar manner.”

The Holy Apostles, having not yet received the Holy Spirit, are shown without halos. Some gaze up at Christ, while the rest look at Mary, the angels or each other, expressing their amazement at Christ’s Ascension. This is also a way of showing the varying stages of their spiritual lives.”

Saint Paul, among others, is often shown with the disciples even though he wasn’t present at the Ascension. All members of Christ’s Church, no matter how far removed by time and space, are part of this elevation of human nature into the realm of the Divine.”

Quoted from: Heaven meets Earth: Celebrating Pascha and the Twelve Feast (page 46), by John Kosmas Skinas

More information

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