Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Ascension Day Traditions, Old and New
Forty days after Easter the church celebrates Ascension Day, the day Jesus ascended into heaven. Sadly, it's a festival that is often over looked by many Christians. Perhaps it's because it's celebrated on a Thursday, maybe only remembered the following Sunday. Maybe it's because we isolate the event of the day and think only of Jesus going up into the clouds, a rather gloomy resolution if you forget to tell the whole story - that He is still bodily present with us in the Sacrament of the Altar.
Some of the historic traditions for celebrating the Ascension of Our Lord include processions up a hill for worship, extinguishing the paschal candle, and even hoisting a figure of Jesus through an opening in the church roof! As remarked in one of my old resources, The Christian Year by Edward T. Horn, the idea of lifting Jesus up by a pulley, the rope bound to get stuck along the lift, will yield nothing but laughter from a congregation in modern America. Still, for children, these traditions of the church can be educational and memorable traditions in the home - especially when reinvented with a modern twist and a little sugar.
There are no hills in Naples, Florida for us to climb, but tomorrow we will light our white Easter candle one last time, and after dinner put it on the shelf in the pantry, up again until next year. The children are also challenged to find the highest possible location in the house. With a boost they set a cross as high up as it can be placed.
Instead of hoisting Jesus through the ceiling, we like to find Sunday School sticker of Jesus and place it onto a silver Mylar balloon.
Candy is a special treat in our house, reserved only for feasts and festivals days. Ascension Day begs for cotton candy!
We tape the balloon ribbon to a silver charger, and place a cloud mound out of the spun sugar on top!
After the Bible reading, Acts 1:1-11, we launch the balloon and watch Jesus go up, up, UP, high above the clouds.
I love that even though the balloon goes up, it is still tethered to our green table. "Why do you stand looking into heaven?" Even though we can no longer see Jesus - He lives and is with us even now, today!