Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.
Thursday, Sixth Week of Easter
O Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Today is Ascension Day, the day Jesus was lifted up into heaven to return to his Father. It was exactly 40 days after his resurrection. Luke tells us they were in the vicinity of Bethany, on the Mount of Olivet (Acts 1:12), otherwise known as the Mount of Olives.
What caught my attention as I was reviewing the ascension day texts is that as Jesus parted from them, he lifted up his hands and blessed them and then they blessed him. Blessings were reciprocal, received and given.
In regard to Jesus blessing, I wonder if it was different or similar to the ancient Aaronic blessing that is used in our liturgy where the name of the Triune God is placed on the people at the end of the service? “The LORD bless you and keep you…”
The disciples, upon receiving his blessing, returned the blessing back to God. They first worshiped Jesus right then and there, then returning to Jerusalem with great joy, we are told that they were continually in the temple blessing God.
The temple was the place where they knew God dwelt and they went there to bless him. Today, we have been made the temple of God, and God is with us by his Holy Spirit. Though we are waiting for the time when we will be able to gather publicly for worship, today is the day God has made, a day to receive God’s blessing and a day to bless God with our worship, our prayers, and our lives.
Receive the blessing of God: “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD look upon you with favor and give you peace.”
Go in peace, and bless the LORD!
Peace to you in Christ,
Pastor Langdon Reinke
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