The mystery of Ascension Day – some doubted

ascension dayAscension Day is probably the most theologically rich day on its own in the church calendar. I was asked about how I would preach a sermon on Ascension Day at my selection conference for ordination training!

I’d encourage you to go to a service today, think on it, it will make your brain hurt – in a good way. It’s good for us to encounter things our little brains can’t completely understand.

I find Matthew’s account of the ascension really encouraging:

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ – Matthew 28:16-20


These are the 11 remaining disciples. They worshipped Jesus, but SOME DOUBTED. Some, of the 11 doubted. That’s not 1 or 2, that’s some. To these doubtful people, Jesus then gives the great commission.

I doubt that I understand what the Ascension is truly about, but it’s ok, I’m in good company!

I read an extract from this poem in the church times which I will share with you here:

Ascension – Denise Levertov 

Stretching Himself as if again,
through downpress of dust
upward, soul giving way
to thread of white, that reaches
for daylight, to open as green
leaf that it is…
Can Ascension
not have been
arduous, almost,
as the return
from Sheol, and
back through the tomb
into breath?
Matter reanimate
now must reliquish
itself, its
human cells,
molecules, five
senses, linear
vision endured
as Man –
the sole
all-encompassing gaze
resumed now,
Eye of Eternity.
Reliquished, earth’s
broken Eden.
self-enjoined task
of Incarnation.
He again
Fathering Himself.
Seed-case splitting.
He again
Mothering His birth:
torture and bliss.

You might like to read this poem alongside this art installation from Anish Kapoor:


  1. But the matter isn’t relinquished. That’s what is so awesome about it. Now human flesh is at the heart of the Godhead, heaven and earth are married and the plan of salvation is brought to completion as Christ takes his place but does not cash away his flesh,which is also our flesh.


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