Good Morning Friends and Welcome!
Today we have a very special guest speaking about a very special subject: The Ascension of our Lord Jesus.....
Can you imagine?
Crowds of people line a cobbled road where excitement dances so vibrantly it’s almost palpable. Men, women, and children, crane their necks, and listen to hear the strains of jubilant instruments alive with music. They anxiously await the sighting of the colorful lead banner in the Ascension Procession which visually proclaims that the enemy of our souls has been slain, that Christ has overcome in ascendancy and now sits at the right hand of God. They wait with excitement to view those who follow after in joyful parade: the churchman dressed in regal garments along with choirs and players of instruments, and laymen of the church who fall into the steps of celebration. Finally, the crowd’s patience is rewarded when the Ascension Procession finally comes into full view and hearing. Cheers of elation sound from onlookers and the road is filled with ineffable joy. That was how the Day of Ascension was recognized in Medieval Europe.
Today is May 14, 2015, The Day of Ascension for the Christian church in this year. Since my latest Berdie Elliott mystery, Into the Clouds, takes place on Ascension Sunday and following, I decided to share with you here the many observances of the holy day.
Just a quick look at it in history tells us that it was first celebrated as a church event in 68 A.D.. However, our first evidence of the church observance wasn’t until 385 A.D..
Ascension Day occurs forty days after Easter, inevitably on a Thursday, although many churches choose to recognize it on Ascension Sunday, that is, the first Sunday following the actual fortieth day. Ascension Day falls between April 30, and June 3, depending on the date of Easter. It is in acknowledgment of the event when the disciples gathered together with the resurrected Jesus Christ and witnessed the amazing sight where He was assumed into heaven as told in Mark 16:19, Luke 24:50-51.
There are several special observances around the world, but because the setting of my Berdie Elliott mysteries is England, I focused on the former and current practices found in that country.
* For those who lit a Pascal candle at Easter, and everyday throughout the forty days, on the Day of Ascension they discontinue use and put it away.
* As described in the opening paragraph, there were processions from one church to another, sometimes from one village to another that included music, churchman, banners, and followers. This practice lasted several centuries, into the eighteen hundreds, but, sadly, is seldom practiced today. Only in a few isolated rural communities is the procession practiced.
* It was said that if Ascension Day was sunny, crops would be plentiful. But if it was rainy, it would be a poorer harvest.
* Many churches sang hymns, said prayers for blessings, presented first fruits of the spring, and also held field blessings where the local clergyman came to the newly sown grounds and asked for God’s benevolence upon them. This is still practiced in a few country churches.
* The pastor and congregation of a church would process around the foundation boundary of the church property and pray for God’s ascended protection.
Modern day Ascension observances are generally practiced within the church walls. The last Ascension Sunday observance I attended had readings around Christ’s assumption, with an otherwise usual service or liturgy. However, red helium balloons were attached to the ends of the pews, red being the color of the liturgical season, which were released into the sky by the church youth following the service.
My Berdie Elliott mysteries all revolve around a liturgical church holy day: Candle for a Corpse takes place at Advent, Up from the Grave is a Lenten mystery. In my story, Into the Clouds, St. Aidan of the Wood Parish Church holds the first Ascension Procession in fifty years. The hustle and bustle of preparation is realized in a well attended parade through the small English village that lifts spirits and celebrates God’s glory. Hugh Elliott, Berdie’s husband who is the parish vicar, is at the helm, of course. The mystery begins when someone who began the procession doesn’t arrive at the village green where the parade ends in celebration . It falls to Berdie Elliott, vicar’s wife and sleuth extraordinaire, to find the missing person and solve the mystery. It was great fun to write, and, hopefully, an enjoyable read for all.
So, today, we the church, recognize the ascendency of Christ, who was taken into heaven to sit at God’s right hand. If no one has said it to you yet on this special Thursday, have a blessed Ascension Day, and pass it on.
Find out more about Marilyn and her books by visiting her website.
Into the Clouds can be purchased at Amazon and Pelican Book Group.
Hope you enjoyed this guest post. Check back weekly for Tuesday Treasure, Saturday Spotlight and of course, Thursday Thoughts!
Until next time take care & God Bless!