Ask anyone why they come and worship on the Lord’s Day and you will receive heaps of reasons, all valid. Some come because they wish to thank God for his awesome creation and the wonderful gift of life. Some come to worship because they recognise God’s sustaining power over this universe. Some come to worship because God, by his Word and Spirit, has called them into a saving relationship with His Son. Some worship simply because they know their sins are forgiven and one day, they will enjoy eternal life in a place where there will be no more sin. Some worship God for the gifts he has given them, freedom, peace, clothing, shelter, food, employment, medical staff and a whole lot more.
Allow Scripture to give you one more reason which, with respect, I don’t think too many Christians consider as a reason for worship and praise, “Ascension Day.” In the past, Ascension Day was a day when people came to worship and remember the significance of this day, even though the fortieth day after resurrection day fell on a Thursday. Sadly, many churches don’t make time to worship and praise God as they remember this day, and where it does happen, only a handful attend, because everyone is ‘too busy’ to come together to worship mid-week. Yet the disciples who witnessed Jesus’ ascension to the right hand of God the Father, saw it as an opportunity to worship and praise God (Luke 24:50-53).
This coming Sunday D.v, we are also going to remember Ascension Day and just as it was for the disciples, it is a reason for praise and worship for us too. One of our four forms of unity, the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 18, Q&A 49 gives us three reasons why it is a benefit for us that Jesus ascended to the Father’s right hand in glory (Col 3:1-4), and hence a reason for worship and praise.
First, Jesus pleads our cause in heaven in the presence of His Father (Rom 8:34; 1 Jn 2:1). In other words, Jesus acting as our spoken (advocate) reminds the Father that He died for us and hence we are now His adopted children (Rom 8:16ff). Second, Jesus ascended with his glorified human body, hence the grave will not be the end for us. Our flesh is ‘already’ in heaven and Christ’s physical ascension, the first fruit, guarantees our physical, glorified ascension as well (John 14:2; 17:24; Eph 2:4-6). Third, Christ sends His Holy Spirit and He is therefore present everywhere by His Spirit, not least in our hearts reminding us we are God’s children, guaranteeing what is still to come for us (John 14:16; 2 Cor 1:21-22; 5:5; see also Eph 1:14).
So, along with all the other reasons, may Ascension Day also be a reason to worship and sing praises to our God. We pray that the Lord will be glorified, and His name exalted amongst us as we worship. JZ