St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
The Rev’d Charles Everson
May 13, 2021
As the psalmist said, “God is gone up with a merry noise, and the Lord with the sound of the trumpet.” According to the Scripture, on the very first Ascension Day, the Lord commissioned His Apostles to preach the Gospel to all nations; then, having blessed them, "he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9).
After all the disciples had been through with Jesus – the agony of his death, and the joy of his resurrection – it’s hard to imagine the sadness and despair they must have felt when he disappeared from their sight. The disciples saw him after the resurrection – they felt the marks of the nails in his hands and his side, and even ate with him – but now he’s gone.
Not only is God gone up, humanity is too! For we believe that God humbled himself to share in our humanity in the incarnation of Jesus Christ at Christmas. Through the mystery of the Ascension of Jesus into heaven, we who are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under the Lord’s table, are taken up with him. In the words of St. John Chrysostom, “Our very nature, against which Cherubim guarded the gates of Paradise, is enthroned today high above all Cherubim.”
Despite their sadness, the disciples were hopefully prepared as they heard their Lord tell say to them,
“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”
Unlike the disciples, we know how this plays out. Ten days after Jesus’s ascension, the Holy Spirit comes with power with a sound like the rush of a violent wind. Jesus keeps his promise and does not leave us orphaned. Though his body left this earth, by the mighty power of the Holy Spirit, he continues to work in the world today primarily in the Sacraments of the Church. By the power of the Spirit, when someone is baptized, they are cleansed from sin and welcomed into the household of God. By the power of the Spirit, the same Jesus who ascended body and soul into heaven on that first Ascension Day is the same Jesus who is here among us in the consecrated bread and wine.
Let us give thanks that “God is gone up with a merry noise, and the Lord with the sound of the trumpet!” Let us give thanks to God for not leaving us orphaned. Let us give thanks that “when two or three are gathered together in [his] name, [he] will be in the midst of [us].” And let us give thanks that we are not alone – that God is manifesting his presence to us by the Holy Spirit in the face of the poor, and in the most holy Sacrament of the Altar.
 Hom. in Ascens., 2; PG, 50, 414.
 John 14.
The sermons preached at High Mass at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Kansas City, are posted here!