Updated: Feb 20, 2019
I love this quiet, mid-week feast day celebrating Christ's rising up to Heaven in His resurrected body. He leaves us with the commission to carry on, to share His words and His love.
In the Roman Church, this feast is now often moved to Sunday, and so few people celebrate Ascension on Thursday these days. There is, however, significance to marking the 40 days that have passed since Christ’s resurrection. Forty is a meaningful number in Scripture and it purposefully connects events throughout Biblical history.
In the Eastern Church, we still keep the feast on the fortieth day after Pascha, so in our family, we celebrate by going to one of the highest points in our county to raise our icon, say our prayers, and enjoy a pic-nic.
Today was a beautiful day for our “liturgical hike.” Marc took off work for the morning & we took the kids out of school for the day. We began the day with Ascension gifts - shoes for the hike and the soon-coming summer. Then we loaded up everyone, including our dog, and drove out to Cedar Ridge Preserve. We began at the entrance to the hiking path with a prayer.
We had a lovely time making our way up to the lookout tower atop the hill. The kids took turns carrying our processional cross and Ascension Day banner, which bears a lion crushing a dragon on a blue background.
“Along with the resurrection, the ascension functioned as a proof of Jesus' claim that he was the Messiah. The Ascension is also the event whereby humanity was taken into heaven. Finally, the ascension was also the "final blow" so-to-speak against Satan's power, and thus the lion (Jesus) conquering the dragon (Satan) is a symbol of the ascension.” (Churchyear.net)
When we reached the summit, we raised our icon of Christ into the trees and said our prayers* before a pic-nic of grape juice, berries and peanut butter sandwiches. We ate under the stairs of the watch tower, surrounded by spiders, and headed back down the hill to make it to a noon Liturgy.
Once home, we hung our banner in the window, our icon above our table, and put away our Paschal candle. We also like to decorate with birds and butterflies for this feast, alluding to ascending flight, using lots of blue (evocative of the sky) and some green (in anticipation of the growth of the Church out of this commission). These replace some of our Easter decorations as we begin this octave and move towards the final feast of the Paschal season, Pentecost.