This is part of a developing series – consolidating, clarifying, and (perhaps) expanding ideas presented in this blog.
Part 1 — God
Part 2 — Bible
Part 3 — Yeshua
Part 4 — Crucifixion
Part 5 — Resurrection
These posts are, as it were, pages in my sketchbook on faith and theology.
While I draw deeply from the wells of a host of significant thinkers and writers, this is a very personal undertaking for which I bear full responsibility for any distortions or mis-use of their ideas.
While the Crucifixion is an historical event in the life of Yeshua and the Resurrection is a description of the process through which the early church developed a strong sense of connection with Yeshua after his death, the Ascension is not an event in history. Instead it is a theological metaphor developed (invented) by the early church.
Ascension in the Early Church
Given the cosmology of the 1st century – Heaven above, Earth in the middle, Hell below – the Ascension was necessary to get the resurrected Christ into the heavenly habitation where God resided. That meant going up. The ascension of Christ was the only way he could get to where God was. We must remember that Mark and Luke-Acts were written decades after Yeshua’s death. They represent (along with Matthew and John) alternate attempts to make sense of the early church’s continuing experience of Christ in their midst. They are not eye-witness accounts of historical facts. They are interpretations of memories and stories and new experiences.
Given the cosmology of the 21st century – a 13.9 billion year old universe, expanding in all directions – “up” and “down” are relative terms. The direction arrows for describing our encounter with divine mystery are “in” and “out.” Joining with our ancient Celtic sisters and brothers, we listen for the heartbeat of God within ourselves, in others, and in the creation. So, does this mean abandoning the Ascension? Surely, not!
Reading Ascension Today
Walter Wink (Just Jesus, pages 159-161) suggests that the Ascension represents a radical shift (mutation) in the DNA of the collective unconscious – that is, Ascension is “an archetypal image, capable of galvanizing unlived life and mobilizing untapped resistance to the institutions and structures that squeeze the life out of people. … As the image of the truly Human One, Jesus became an exemplar of our own utmost possibilities for living.”
The Ascension represents a fusion of God and Yeshua. If we want to know about God, we now look to Yeshua. Resurrection means living life to the full, our lives mirroring Yeshua’s. Ascension means that our lives that mirror Yeshua are imprinted with the divine mystery. Yeshua called God “Abba” – a term of endearment and intimacy. Ascension is a metaphoric way of giving each of us access to the endearment and intimacy of Abba.