“When’s Whitsunday, just after Ascension Day” there was a hurried hunting for, and looking through dairies. No one could find either date. It seems that a date so important for two thousand years is now to be excluded from public calendars.
For your information, Ascension Day is forty days after Easter Day (a Sunday) and Whitsunday is ten days after that.
Ascension Day always has two memories for me. One is of school days when after several practices of the well known Ascension hymns in addition to the hymns we sang in assembly, we were marched two by two to the local parish church for the Ascension Day act of worship. After which we were given the day off from school.
The second memory is of the times when we went to the railway station to say “goodbye” to people who were leaving us. Perhaps a member of the family, or may be visitors departing after a stay, the procedure was always the same. While waiting for the train to depart no body knew what to say. “Give my love to…” “You will write won’t you”
The train doors would be kept open while we tried to make conversation, then the whistle would send everyone into a panic of hugs and kisses and goodbyes, while the departing loved ones would scramble into the compartment, let down the window, and lean out to wave goodbye. As the train slowly moved out there would be much hand waving and shouted last minute thoughts. The waving would continue, some people moving along with the train as if reluctant to lose sight of that face in the window. Then they would be gone, and one would turn back to the platform exit feeling very much alone. In war time there was always a prayer that the loved one would return unharmed, and an ache in the heart.
I wonder if this was how it was on the day of Ascension.? They didn’t say “Don’t forget to write” (The stamps would be priceless if He had written wouldn’t they !) What they did say was “Lord, will you now restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus replied that He was not going to talk about the future times, “But” He said “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes to you, and you are going to be my witnesses all over the world”.
Then it happened, He suddenly started to move upward, their eyes followed Him, their heads tilted back, He looked smaller and smaller, and then He disappeared into the clouds.
They looked to each other, and saw that they had been joined by two angels in shining white, who spoke to them “Why are you standing here looking upward? This same Jesus will come back again in the same way as you have seen Him go”.
Hardly a day goes by with out my looking heavenward and wondering, will He come back today ? It seems to me that the events that He told us would take place before He returned have happened now, and I feel excited to think He might come any time. Do you doubt that ? Well remember He said “at a time when you think not, I will come.”
But after the departure ones thoughts turn away from the moment when we waved goodbye, and they settle on where they are now. They must have reached so- and-so by now. They will have arrived by now. I wonder what they will be doing now ! Over Jesus’ departure we have a good idea what He is doing now. He has “gone to prepare a place for us”. I wonder what that will be like ! He is “Seated at the right hand of The Father always making intercessions for us”. He still is there helping us ! And “Lo I am with you always, even unto the end” He told us.
Isn’t Ascension exciting ! ( from Gerald Gossage)