by Jean Farris Fuller, Director of Music
GREAT UPLIFTING MUSIC for Ascension - May 12, 2013, or actually the Sunday following the Ascension: Special music for the 10:30 Sanctuary Service will be presented by members of The Parish Choir under the direction of our Choral Director, Mr. Jeff Vanderlee. Choral works will include “Gloria from Mass in D by Dvorak and communion presented by our choral ensemble, “Agnus dei by Rheinberger. The prelude will feature our newest members of the Choir, Martha Galie. Her and her husband have just moved here from Connecticut and they have brought many talents to the choir. Jean and Martha will play a 4-hand duet by John Rutter, “Variations on O filii et filiae” (O sons and daughters, let us sing!—pg. 203 in our hymnal.) On the Feast of the Ascension, the Church does not merely commemorate an historical event in the life of Christ. On this day, the Church celebrates Christ's physical departure from the world and His glorification with God the Father.
For forty days after His Resurrection, Jesus remained on earth. Filled with the glory and honor of His Divinity, He appeared to His Disciples at various times and places. By eating and drinking with His followers and conversing with them about the Kingdom of God, Jesus assured them that He was truly alive in His risen and glorified Body. (The glorification of Jesus refers to His Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension into heaven. When we speak of Christ's glorified Body, we refer to Its honor, splendor, majesty and visible radiance - it gave off rays of bright light!)
The time span of forty days is used symbolically in the Holy Scriptures and by the Church to indicate that an appropriate amount of time has passed for "completeness". [The rains of the great flood lasted for forty days. Christ prayed in the wilderness for forty days. We fast for forty days to prepare before the feasts of the Nativity and the Resurrection (Pascha). - NTK]
Ascension falls on the fortieth day after the Resurrection. On this day, Jesus appeared to His Disciples and gave them His last commandment - to preach the Kingdom of God and the repentance and forgiveness of sins in His name to all nations, beginning with Jerusalem. Then He led them out of Jerusalem toward Bethany to the Mount of Olives. He lifted up His hands and blessed them. As His Disciples were looking on, He was lifted up - or "ascended" - and a cloud took Him out of sight. While they were looking up, two angels in white robes appeared and said to them: "Why are you men from Galilee standing here looking into the sky? Jesus, Who has been taken up from you into heaven, this same Jesus will come back in the same was as you have seen Him go there."
The Ascension is, therefore, a sign and symbol of the Second Coming. Christ will return to the earth in the same manner as He left it. When the risen Lord returns again in glory, God's will for mankind will be fulfilled. We celebrate with great music and funny sermons.