Here's a fascinating thought...

One last note on the Ascension - this from Damian Howard SJ - in his summary of NT Wright's insights:  when the story of the Ascension is focused on how Christ becomes king - and what the kingdom of God means in the Judeo-Christian canon - it offers a "crowning moment in the resolution of the apocalyptic vision first articulated in the poetry of Daniel.

I saw one like a human being (Son of Man - Christ's favorite self reference)
   coming with the clouds of heaven.
And he came to the Ancient One
   and was presented before him.
To him was given dominion
   and glory and kingship,
that all peoples, nations and languages
   should serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
   that shall not pass away,
and his kingship is one
   that shall never be destroyed.
Howard notes:  the coronation of the one like a human being (Son of Man)... is presented exactly as an onlooker in heaven would enjoy the scene. It is a dream-vision - an imaginative rendition of the deep, hope-filled aspiration of faithful Jews, suffering persecution at the hands of an enemy so powerful they could scarcely envisage ever overcoming it. The Ascension, therefore in the words of Douglas Farrow, is quite simply the very same event (from Daniel) as viewed from earth, the Son of Man setting out on His journey to take up His throne alongside 'the Ancient One.'

The words of St. Paul note something similar in Philippians II:

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.

Here the Ascension as recorded in Luke-Acts depicts the mystery of the Hebrew Bible revealed in the presence of the disciples.  Interesting, yes?  Consequently, this imaginative and poetic understanding of Jesus as King of heaven - not "kin" in some half-baked and sibling society attempt at inclusivity - but king invites a metaphorical vision of Christ's compassion becoming the heart of justice, judgment and God's will.  In the best mythopoetic sense, a king invites the common good:  not only is balance restored between the physical and the spiritual in a healthy kingdom, but the well-being of the least is protected and honored.

For too long the Reformed tradition has insisted on an anemic utilitarianism for fear of being too "Catholic."  Let's get over our fears, our selves and our prejudices and go deeper into the mystical wisdom of the poetry of the Ascension.


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