Fr. Philip Sang: The God We Worship: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

Sermon delivered on Trinity Sunday C, May 22, 2016, at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

If you prefer to listen to the audio podcast of this sermon, click here.

Lectionary texts: Proverbs 8.1-4, 22-31; Psalm 8.1-10; Romans 5.1-5; John 16.12-15.

There is a story that St. Augustine was walking on the beach contemplating the mystery of the Trinity. Then he saw a boy in front of him who had dug a hole in the sand and was going out to the sea again and again and bringing some water to pour into the hole. St. Augustine asked him, “What are you doing?” “I’m going to pour the entire ocean into this hole.” “That is impossible, the whole ocean will not fit in the hole you have made” said St. Augustine. The boy replied, “And you cannot fit the Trinity in your tiny little brain.” The story concludes by saying that the boy vanished because St. Augustine had been talking to an angel.

For six months now, in the course of our calender Church’s calendar, we have been remembering and celebrating the Incarnation and the redeeming works and life of Christ our Savior.  We Started with his birth, and actually with preparing for his Incarnation and Birth, and our need for him. These last two weeks we saw the culmination of it all, with his glorious Ascension, seating at the Right Hand of the Father, and the sending of the Holy Spirit. And the end of all this, the point of it all, is that we should behold and come to know and love God. The Incarnation, a word for the Son’s taking our nature upon himself, is the revelation of the life of God: his being, his love, his majesty, and his glory. The lectionary lets us see his glory lived out in his life, like John says in the beginning of his Gospel. John 1:14

Today then, as we celebrate Trinity Sunday we are reminded the divine life of God himself, in which we are called to share: adopted children, by grace, “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” So today for those of us who are liturgical and follow the church calender we try to sum up the great heavenly truths about God. And that’s not easy. Our words do not describe very well the glories of heaven.

Today being Trinity Sunday, many pastors will focus on this doctrine of our Christian faith, one of the most inexpressible mysteries of our faith and at the end of the sermon still words cannot explain well. There have been many attempts to try to bring this mystery into our level of understanding. Some have said that the Trinity is like water in its three phases: steam, liquid, and ice. Others have said that the Trinity is like the same person with three different titles, such as a woman could be a mother, sister, and daughter all at the same time. With all things considered, none of these analogies or metaphors or symbols or whatever it is you want to call them is an accurate illustration. The Trinity is three distinct Persons in One God. All three, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, have been around for all eternity; all three co-exist so that all can be apparent at the same place at the same time, as we heard from the scriptures during Epiphany season with Jesus Baptism. If you were born during that time like me you can’t afford to forget, God the Father speaking, God the Son being Baptized in the Jordan, and the Holy Spirit descending upon Him. If you forget then you better change your date of birth if it is possible, by the way this is possible in Africa.

During Jesus Baptism, Each of the Three are able to talk to each other as distinct Persons (like when God the Son prayed to God the Father). Also, the presence of One can be emphasized over the other, which we saw in our Gospel lesson this morning. A symbol of this Trinity in Unity at work. Christ speaks to his disciples, telling them that he is going away, going to the Father, from where he will send the Spirit, the Helper, to be with them The doctrine of the Trinity is the central doctrine of the Christian faith. Our “faith is this,” says the Athanasian Creed, “that we worship one God in Trinity, and the Trinity in unity.”

If you recall something of the early history of the Church, perhaps you know with what difficulty the doctrine of the Trinity was clarified. St. Athanasius was exiled five times from his diocese of Alexandria in his struggles against the Arians, who denied that the Son was Fully God. That is why we say, in the Nicene Creed, “being of one substance with the Father,” (of one being with the Father) “very God of very God.” (True God from true God)
These are phrases which pass can pass easily off our tongues, but they are phrases which were shouted by multitudes in processions through the streets of ancient Rome and Constantinople, to teach all that Christ was as fully God as God the Father.

The Arian solution–that Jesus is God-like, but not very God, would have meant a very different Christianity. If he is not really God, he is not our Savior. If Christ is not God, his death would not be sufficient to pay for our sins. The Trinity tells us of our relation to the Father as children. Where Hindu’s see deity as a disembodied cosmic force behind everything, and Muslims see God as an angry master, however, we as Christians, we know God as Father, and Christ as brother, from which we can understand all Fatherhood and Brotherhood. We are sealed with the Holy Spirit, who marks us as His, and who enables us to live as God would have us to live. “We worship one God in Trinity, and the Trinity in unity,” says the Creed of St. Athanasius. “Three Persons and One God.” But what does that mean, beyond sheer mystification? St. Augustine asks us to consider the life of the human soul, God’s image. The soul remembers, it knows, it loves. These are three activities, and yet they are the activity of one soul.

Father, Son and Spirit, three persons and one God: all equally divine, all absolutely God, one nature, one reality. God is not three beings, or three personalities: God is one.
Hope you get the idea. It seems to be a complex God who cannot be easily described. Each of the Three Persons of our One God has different attributes yet the Three work together as One. The last couple of weeks we have been focusing on unity. We saw unity through the commandment of Christ that we love one another (John 17:20-26). Then we saw the unity we have in that we are many being with different languages, nations and ethnicities made into one church. But those are examples of a human unity, and many times an imperfect unity. The Trinity, however, is a divine unity, the one and only perfect unity, of how three distinct Persons are together as One.

Our Epistle lesson from Romans 5 provides one example of how the Three Persons of our One God work together. In this instance, Paul writes about how God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit gives us hope. Hope that does not disappoint us. Paul tells us there how we are justified with God the Father by faith. Justified means “made in alignment with.” Like your margins on a computer. When we are justified with God, we are brought into alignment, made right, with God by faith.

How? We are justified by faith through God the Son, God the Son acts as intercessor for us with God the Father. It is through Christ’s grace that we are able to stand before God the Father as justified. It is through the Holy Spirit, that this grace is applied into our lives. Yet these three, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are One.

The Trinity is one of the hardest things to explain and understand in Christian Doctrine, despite the fact that we recite the creed every week. But the one thing we certainly can say, and do, is to Praise God, even when we do not understand Him. We Praise God that he is a loving Father, and the One, True, Holy and Living God.

We Praise Him because he is our creator, King, Shepherd, and the preserver of all things. We praise Him that his Love, Power, Wisdom, and justice is displayed throughout His Creation. All these things are worthy of Praise! As for God the Son, we can praise him for his obedience to live as a servant and to suffer and die upon the cross to become our savior. Praise him for conquering the grave by rising from the dead. Praise him that he made eternal life with God the Father possible. And as for God the Holy Spirit, we can praise Him because His presence with us never ends. He is the one who reveals the word of God to us so that we not only become Christians, but also grow and become faithful witnesses. This is why David could write such a powerful message in Psalm 8 which we prayed this morning. As David gazed out into the vast universe, with its celestial bodies, he couldn’t help but have a sense of awe and wonder for who God is.

That Hymn of Praise is to God as the Good Creator, Ruler, and sustainer of everything in the Heavens, on Earth, and in the Sea. It is a song of Thanksgiving that, no matter how small we are in comparison to all that God has created, the Father is always mindful of us and caring for us. David couldn’t help but lift up this song of praise after pondering the fact that instead of giving us the judgment our sins deserve, he gives us love and care. That despite the fall of humanity, he still blesses us by appointing us as the caretakers over all of his creation to maintain its order and to shine God’s Light upon it.

This is why we join the Psalmist in crying out, “O Lord, our Lord, How Majestic is your name in all the Earth. That is why we Praise God, the Trinity, the Three in one. I’d like to close with these words “First, I have learned to believe in God the Father, who has made me and all the World. Secondly, to believe in God the Son who redeems me and the whole world. Thirdly, to believe in God the Holy Spirit, who Sanctifies me, and all the people of God. It is my prayer that we will humbly accept this Biblical Truth and Join with all Christians in praising our God, the Trinity, Three in One, And now unto God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, three Persons, one God, be all might, majesty, dominion, and power, both now and forever, world without end. Amen

An Ancient Account of how Pentecost was Celebrated

From here.

But on the fiftieth day, that is, the Lord’s Day, when the people have a very great deal to go through, everything that is customary is done from the first cockcrow onwards; vigil is kept in the Anastasis, and the bishop reads the passage from the Gospel that is always read on the Lord’s Day, namely, the account of the Lord’s Resurrection, and afterwards everything customary is done in the Anastasis [the cross], just as throughout the whole year. But when morning is come, all the people proceed to the great church, that is, to the martyrium [the church], and all things usual are done there; the priests preach and then the bishop, and all things that are prescribed are done, the oblation being made, as is customary on the Lord’s Day, only the same dismissal in the martyrium is hastened, in order that it may be made before the third hour [9am].

And when the dismissal has been made at the martyrium, all the people, to a man, escort the bishop with hymns to Sion, [so that] they are in Sion when the third hour is fully come. And on their arrival there the passage from the Acts of the Apostles is read where the Spirit came down so that all tongues [were heard and all men] understood the things that were being spoken, and the dismissal takes place afterwards in due course For the priests read there from the Acts of the Apostles concerning the selfsame thing, because that is the place in Sion—there is another church there now—where once, after the Lord’s Passion, the multitude was gathered together with the Apostles, and where this was done, as we have said above. Afterwards the dismissal takes place in due course, and the oblation is made there. Then, that the people may be dismissed, the archdeacon raises his voice, and says: “Let us all be ready to day in Eleona, in the Imbomon [place of the Ascension], directly after the sixth hour [noon].”

So all the people return, each to his house, to rest themselves, and immediately after breakfast they ascend the Mount of Olives, that is, to Eleona, each as he can, so that there is no Christian left in the city who does not go. When, therefore, they have gone up the Mount of Olives, that is, to Eleona, they first enter the Imbomon, that is, the place whence the Lord ascended into heaven, and the bishops and the priests take their seat there, and likewise all the people. Lessons are read there with hymns interspersed, antiphons too are said suitable to the day and the place, also the prayers which are interspersed have likewise similar references. The passage from the Gospel is also read where it speaks of the Lord’s Ascension, also that from the Acts of the Apostles which tells of the Ascension of the Lord into heaven after His Resurrection. And when this is over, the catechumens and then the faithful are blessed, and they come down thence, it being already the ninth hour [3pm], and go with hymns to that church which is in Eleona, wherein is the cave where the Lord was wont to sit and teach His Apostles. And as it is already past the tenth hour [4pm] when they arrive, lucernare takes place there; prayer is made, and the catechumens and likewise the faithful are blessed.

And then all the people to a man descend thence with the bishop, saying hymns and antiphons suitable to that day, and so come very slowly to the martyrium. It is already night when they reach the gate of the city, and about two hundred church candles are provided for the use of the people. And as it is agood distance from the gate to the great church, that is, the martyrium, they arrive about the second hour of the night, for they go the whole way very slowly lest the people should be weary from being afoot. And when the great gates are opened, which face towards the market-place, all the people enter the martyrium with hymns and with the bishop. And when they have entered the church, hymns are said, prayer is made, the catechumens and also the faithful are blessed; after which they go again with hymns to the Anastasis, where on their arrival hymns and antiphons are said, prayer is made, the catechumens and also the faithful are blessed; this is likewise done at the Cross. Lastly, all the Christian people to a man escort the bishop with hymns to Sion, and when they are come there, suitable lessons are read, psalrns and antiphons are said, prayer is made, the catechumens and the faithful are blessed, and the dismissal takes place. And after the dismissal all approach the bishop’s hand, and then every one returns to his house about midnight. Thus very great fatigue is endured on that day, for vigil is kept at the Anastasis from the first cockcrow, and there is no pause from that time onward throughout the whole day, but the whole celebration (of the Feast) lasts so long that it is midnight when every one returns home after the dismissal has taken place at Sion.

—Egeria, Abbess (late 4th century), The Pilgrimage of Egeria85-90

Jesus is Lord? I Mean, Jesus is Lord!

Sermon delivered on Ascension Sunday, Easter 7C, May 8, 2016, at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

If you prefer to listen to the audio podcast of today’s sermon, usually somewhat different from the text below, click here.

Lectionary texts: Acts 16.16-24; Psalm 97.1-12; Revelation 22:12–14, 16–17, 20–21; John 17.20-26.

In the name of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Today is Ascension Sunday, the 7th Sunday of Easter, the day we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus into heaven (Luke 24.50-53; Acts 1.6-11). We actually celebrated the Feast of the Ascension on Thursday (you did celebrate it, didn’t you?). But the Church has also wisely observed it on the following Sunday. Unfortunately, however, most of us have learned to ignore the Ascension. What’s it all about? Who really cares? I mean, after all, isn’t it just some fantastic made-up story that describes Jesus as being the first primitive astronaut, blasting off to heaven? Well, no, the Ascension really isn’t about that at all. The Ascension is really about Jesus completing the path to becoming Lord of the cosmos and that is what I want us to look at today.

That the NT writers believed Jesus is Lord is evident in the language they used to talk about the Ascension. Either directly or indirectly, Luke, Paul, Peter, and the writer of Hebrews all speak of Jesus sitting down at the right hand of God the Father (see, e.g., Acts 2.33; Romans 8.34; 1 Peter 3.22; Hebrews 1.3), language that means Jesus is now in God’s space, heaven, ruling on behalf of God until he returns to consummate the saving work he started in his earthly ministry. This concept of a right hand man is not foreign to us either. We all understand that a big shot’s right hand man has clear authority to speak and act on behalf of the big shot.

But here is where many of us get tripped up about Jesus’ lordship. If Jesus really is God’s right hand man (actually Jesus is more than that, he is God himself), i.e., if Jesus really is Lord, then why doesn’t he do a better job of showing us that he is? Let’s be honest. When we hear terms like Lord and King, we expect to see mighty acts of power that dazzle and awe us. We expect a real Lord and King to take care of us and protect us from all that can go wrong in life or that is evil, and when that doesn’t happen, well, we’re skeptical to say the least. And so we look at the Ascension and yawn. We say to ourselves (or think it unconsciously) that Jesus isn’t Lord. He’s an absentee landlord just like his Father, who really doesn’t care all that much about us and his world. So for many of us, the Ascension is nothing more than a confirmation that Jesus is out of sight and out of mind, and it really is up to us to get on with life and forge a happy existence for ourselves as best we can. When that happens, we not only sin against God, we become powerless and ineffective Christians and are to be pitied most of all.

But thankfully, Jesus is not an absentee landlord, nor are we left to our own devices to schlep through life as best we can. In fact, God gives us lessons like the ones we heard this morning to help us better understand the nature of Jesus’ lordship. To be sure, Scripture provides us plenty of examples that meet our human expectations about what a heavenly Lord and King should look like. We see this in our psalm and epistle lessons. The psalmist talks about the fact that the Lord is King, shrouded in mystery, yet full of light and power, who has the ability and determination to both act dramatically and judge his good but sin-infected creation so as to rid it of the evil that plagues us. We should note that judgment is a good thing according to the psalmist because when God comes to judge his creation and its peoples, right order will be restored and we will no longer be afflicted by any kind of evil or suffering. This is the nature and character of God. That is why God’s righteousness and holiness are to be respected and celebrated. He judges for our good. And we should note that only a real Lord and King has the authority and power to effect this kind of judgment. So too does his right hand man.

We see this same theme of judgment in our epistle lesson. Jesus reminds us at the beginning and end of our lesson that he is coming soon to judge all according to our works (or lack thereof). Jesus can do this precisely because he is given the authority to carry out God’s judgment. Clearly there are going to be those who get to live in God’s new creation, here described as having the right to the tree of life—a right taken from us in the Garden when our first ancestors sinned against God—and access to the New Jerusalem where God lives directly with his people forever. It’s a wonderful, glorious, and life-giving picture! But there are also going to be those who are denied access to the tree of life and the New Jerusalem, a passage curiously (or maybe not, listen if you have ears) omitted by the Revised Common Lectionary. These folks are described as, “dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood” (Revelation 22.15). This is not a pretty picture and it should invoke in us a reverent fear (respect) commensurate with a God big enough and powerful enough to be called Lord.

But that’s then and this is now. While the NT makes clear that Jesus will return one day to finish his saving work, we are given no timetable. We are told only that Jesus will return and we should live accordingly. So what about the interim? What does Jesus’ lordship look like in the living of our days? Here again, our lessons today provide us with some valuable insight to help us live faithfully and with power as we await his return so that we don’t buy into the lie that Jesus isn’t Lord and King but really an absentee and uncaring landlord.

Before we look at our NT and gospel lessons, it is critical to remind ourselves what kind of king the NT portrays Jesus to be. He is not a typical king who lords it over his subjects and forces us to obey. No, Jesus is a crucified and risen king, who died for us to break the power of evil and sin in our lives and to reconcile us to God so that we can live in God’s presence. God chose to do this, not by sending in the tanks, not by a wave of his hand to sweep away all evil. To do that would mean that we would be swept away with no hope of being healed or reclaimed because we all carry around evil in us to one degree or another. So we must first and foremost acknowledge and celebrate the fact that Jesus is our crucified Lord. That is why the redeemed in our epistle lesson can eat at the tree of life and live in God’s presence. Their clothes have been washed in the blood of the Lamb, Jesus’ blood shed for us on the cross. Judgment there will be. We will have to give an account of our actions. But at the end of the day, we are assured that when we put our whole hope and trust in Jesus, imperfect as we are, prone to sin as we are, his death is greater than our brokenness, and we are washed clean, thanks be to God!

So when we understand that God’s kingdom was ushered in through ostensible weakness and powerlessness (the apostles didn’t understand this notion that a crucified and publicly humiliated man was actually bringing in the kingdom by pronouncing judgment on sin and the forces of evil until after Jesus was raised from the dead), it helps us to change our conception of what Jesus as Lord looks like. When we understand Jesus is our crucified Lord, it helps us to see signs of his lordship in the most unlikely places.

Take Paul and Silas for example. Their belief that Jesus is Lord had led Paul to expel an evil spirit from a girl and deprived her owners of their economic livelihood. Paul’s exorcism is indeed an act of power that we recognize. But what did it get them? A severe beating and imprisonment. So what kind of Lord fails to protect his followers? Conventional wisdom on power would compel us to dismiss Jesus’ lordship as being weak and/or ineffectual. But this is our crucified and risen Lord we are talking about, who is made known to us in the power of the Spirit whom he sent so that he could be with us, and we see the results of this when we look at the prison scene. Here are Paul and Silas, severely beaten and imprisoned in stocks because Paul had acted in the name of the Lord Jesus. Here is evil and the dark powers behind it doing their best to destroy Jesus’ followers. And what are those followers doing? Singing hymns of praise and thanksgiving to God! What’s going on here? The only plausible explanation is that they knew Jesus is Lord because he was with them in the power of the Spirit. Jesus wasn’t some kind of uncaring or absentee landlord. No! He was with them, ministering to them so that they too could rejoice in their suffering for his sake. For you see, this is how the kingdom comes. Jesus is ascended and reigns as Lord, but his reign must spread through humans acknowledging his lordship though our actions and words. This is how Jesus brings in the kingdom—through us!

I can hear some of you now: But, but, we’re not qualified! We don’t have it in us! We’re only human like everyone else. Well, yes you are, Jesus replies. But it isn’t about you. It’s about me and my power, the power of crucified love made known in and through you in the power of the Spirit. That is why it is so critical for you to avail yourselves of the ordinary means of grace so that you open yourself up to the Spirit’s influence and know that I am really Lord, even when everything around you screams otherwise. Paul and Silas could have succumbed to the same mistake. They could have thought I had abandoned them when they were arrested, beaten, and imprisoned. But they didn’t. They understood they lived in an evil age, but that my love and power have overcome evil when I was crucified, and the power of death was broken forever when I was raised from the dead. So focus on cultivating my presence in you through the ordinary and proven ways I have given you. Read and study Scripture together and individually. Worship me regularly and take to heart the things you hear from brilliant preachers like Fr. Maney. Come to table each week and feed on my body and blood. Pray together and individually. Remind each other of my mighty acts of power, like the earthquake I produced that led to Paul and Silas’ release, and which serves as a reminder to you that even when things look bad, evil and those who perpetrate it will be judged. I am the Lord. This is how I work.

But we want to protest that we haven’t seen earthquakes and other acts of power. Perhaps not, Jesus replies, but some of you have. Don’t discount their testimony. Learn to look for my reign being made known in and through you my people. Every time you honor my request for unity (not uniformity) by loving each other and respecting Christians from other traditions, you proclaim to the world that the Father has sent me. Every time you forgive each other after you have quarreled, you proclaim to the world that I am Lord because I forgave you when I died for you. Every time you see a disease healed or a prayer answered, no matter how big or small the problem is, you see evidence of my love for and presence with you. Every time you show humility and generosity and compassion, you proclaim that I am your Lord—and the kingdom comes. This is how it works. I don’t expect you to fully understand. I expect you to trust and obey me because I’ve got a track record to warrant your trust and obedience. And if you partake in the means of grace we’ve talked about so that you are open to the healing influence of the Spirit, you too can be a Paul and Silas in your faith, even in the darkest valleys of your life. This is why the Ascension matters. It proclaims that Jesus is Lord, now and for all eternity. And that means we have Good news, commensurate with that reality. To him be honor, praise, and glory forever and ever. Alleluia! Christ is risen and ascended! The Lord is risen and ascended indeed! Alleluia!

In the name of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

V-E Day

Today marks the 71st anniversary of V-E Day (Victory in Europe Day), May 8, 1945, in which the Allies celebrated the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany the day before. Take a moment today and thank God for bringing us victory over evil. Remember the brave men and women who fought against Nazism. If you know a veteran who is still alive, take time today and thank him (or her) for his service to our country. Ask that person to tell you his story and remember it so that you can pass it on to your children and others. Nazi Germany may be a thing of the past, but unspeakable evil certainly is not. #VEDay71

Happy Birthday, Mom

Today would have been my mama’s 94th birthday, something she would have no doubt hated if she were alive today (it’s hard to grow old for one so young at heart). My mother was an exquisite role-model of motherhood. She loved me, spent time with me, loved me enough to instill what it meant to be a Maney, and disciplined me when I did not live up to that standard. I hated it at the time, but am grateful for it today. She allowed me to have a childhood that was second to none because she insisted that I be a kid and worked sacrificially to make that happen. In that regard, I miss her presence. But I cannot be sad because I would rather her be where she is than to be here with me and struggling with illness and infirmity (check out this reflection on grief and consolation over parents who have died).

Thank you mama, for being the mother you were. Thank you for all your sacrifice for me and for our family. Thank you for allowing me to grow up in a timely manner and not before it was my time to do so. Thank you for personifying sacrificial love for me. And thank you, dear God, for blessing me with the best parents a person could ever want or dream of having.

Happy birthday, mama. I love you. Enjoy your rest with the Lord who loves you and has claimed you from all eternity.

Rest eternal grant unto Margaret, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen.

And for those of you whose mother is still living, make sure you remember your mama on Mothers’ Day this Sunday. Better yet, treat her like every day is Mothers’ Day. I know my mama would surely approve.

Dr. John Stott on the Ascension (2)

There is no need to doubt the literal nature of Christ’s ascension, so long as we realize its purpose. It was not necessary as a mode of departure, for ‘going to the Father’ did not involve a journey in space and presumably he could simply have vanished as on previous occasions. The reason he ascended before their eyes was rather to show them that this departure was final.  He had now gone for good, or at least until his coming in glory.  So they returned to Jerusalem with great joy and waited – not for Jesus to make another resurrection appearance, but for the Holy Spirit to come in power, as had been promised.

Understanding the Bible, 103.

Dr. John Stott on the Ascension (1)

It is a pity that we call it ‘Ascension Day’, for the Bible speaks more of Christ’s exaltation than of his ascension. This is an interesting avenue to explore. The four great events in the saving career of Jesus are described in the Bible both actively and passively, as deeds done both by Jesus and to Jesus. Thus, we are told with reference to his birth both that he came and that he was sent; with reference to his death both that he gave himself and that he was offered; with reference to his resurrection both that he rose and that he was raised; with reference to his ascension both that he ascended and that he was exalted. If we look more closely, we shall find that in the first two cases, the active phrase is commoner: he came and died, as a deliberate, self-determined choice. But in the last two cases, the passive phrase is more common: he was raised from the tomb and he was exalted to the throne. It was the Father’s act.

—The Exaltation of Jesus (sermon on Phil. 2:9-11)

Pope Leo the Great on the Ascension of Jesus

With all due solemnity we are commemorating that day on which our poor human nature was carried up, in Christ, above all the hosts of heaven, above all the ranks of angels, beyond the highest heavenly powers to the very throne of God the Father. And so our Redeemer’s visible presence has passed into the sacraments. Our faith is nobler and stronger because sight has been replaced by a doctrine whose authority is accepted by believing hearts, enlightened from on high. This faith was increased by the Lord’s ascension and strengthened by the gift of the Spirit.

A Prayer for the Feast of the Ascension of Jesus

O God the King of glory,
you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ
with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven:
we beseech you, leave us not comfortless,
but send your Holy Spirit to strengthen us
and exalt us to the place where our Savior Christ is gone before,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

From The Book of Common Worship