(fr Cyprian) I always like to see this feast as part of a greater trajectory, the trajectory that is Jesus’ whole life. Really we have to start way back at the incarnation, with the mere astounding fact that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, the audacious claim of Christianity that Jesus is a full and perfect embodiment of the creative principle and divine wisdom, primal reason. And then following on that to remember that Jesus’ public ministry was not just about telling people that everything was going to be alright in heaven; his ministry was all about healing people and releasing them from demons. Jesus rebuilt people from the ground up. In other words, their creaturely-ness, even their fleshly-ness was important and worthy to be dignified and saved. And then I always put four events together: the transfiguration, the resurrection, this ascension, and then Pentecost itself (which I will leave to next week’s preacher). The transfiguration in which the very flesh of Jesus is transformed by this indwelling power of the divine coursing through Jesus’ veins… As far as the resurrection is concerned, I have spoken many times to non-Christian and skeptical Christian audiences and I always like to say to them, “It does not matter to me if you believe that these events took place exactly historically scientifically as they are recorded in the gospels. Please don’t miss the point of the story, the moral of the myth!” The point of it seems to be that Jesus’ body––not just his spirit, not just his presence, but his body itself was in some marvelous way beyond our comprehension not annihilated by the death experience but somehow changed into a glorious body. And then comes this event, when in that same glorified body Jesus ascends to the right hand of the Father in glory. Actually we could easily get distracted by this image of Jesus “ascending.” I think it’s more important to keep in mind that according to the Acts of the Apostles he enters into the cloud.[1] What is this cloud? Haven’t we seen it somewhere before? Is it the same pillar of cloud that led the Israelites by day that we hear about in the Book of Exodus?[2] Is it the cloud that covers the mercy seat in the sanctuary of the tabernacle in the desert in the Book of Numbers,[3] the cloud and the thick darkness that covered the mountain where Moses met God?[4] I think it is, and also the same cloud that appears over Jesus at his transfiguration, especially in the Gospel of Luke where we hear that Jesus and his disciples...

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