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Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord B ~ Rev. Benjamin Roberts, D.Min.

Today we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is one of my favorite family stories from the Acts of the Apostles. Forty days after his resurrection, the Lord Jesus returns to the glory of the Father. Jesus enters the temple of heavenly glory. And though  he continues to bear the marks of his passion, now his wounds are trophies of victory. Every wound and every suffering is now radiant in the splendor of the Kingdom. Sin and death have been conquered by the blood of his cross, and now the Lord Jesus returns to the Father. He goes to prepare a place for us. And though he has returned to the glory of the Father, he has promised to remain with us always. The Lord Jesus has promised to be present to us until the end of the world. Jesus does not abandon us.

With the ascension of the Lord Jesus, the power and presence of Christ’s earthly ministry passes into the sacraments. The promise of the Lord Jesus to remain with his disciples always is fulfilled through his presence in the sacraments of the Church. What that means, dear brothers and sisters, is that in every sacramental celebration, we are offered a personal encounter with the Risen Lord. Like Saint Paul on the road to Damascus, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, and like Mary Magdalene at the tomb, each of us is offered an encounter with the Risen Lord. We meet Jesus in the sacraments.  Our encounter with the Risen Lord is just as real as the encounter of those who walked with him in Jerusalem. The way that we experience the encounter is different. The One whom we encounter is the same. We meet the Lord Jesus in the sacraments, and the Lord Jesus meets us in the sacraments of his Church.

Though each of the sacraments is celebrated in the context of a public liturgical celebration, each of us receives the sacraments individually. These moments of grace, where God in his love and mercy has promised to act in a particular way, are personal. One by one we were baptized and one by one we were confirmed. One by one we are absolved in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and one by one we receive the holy anointing.  One by one we receive the precious body and blood of the Lord in Holy Communion. The promise of the Lord Jesus which is offered to all of us, is received by each of us.

And the promise of the Lord Jesus which is offered to us in the Sacraments prepares us for eternal life. We receive the very life of God as a gift of God in each sacrament. The life of God dwelling within us during our life on earth prepares us to dwell forever in the life of God in heaven.

 As we now enter into the worship of heaven, we welcome the Lord into our souls so that one day Jesus will welcome us into his Kingdom.  Amen. 

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