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Happy Ascension Day!

Today is Ascension Day! It is the day that we remember Jesus’ ascent into heaven.

After Jesus’ resurrection, He revealed himself to His disciples over a period of forty days. He ate with them and taught them all about the kingdom of God. One day, while He was eating with them, He told them that they were to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the gift His Father had promised. He told them that they would be baptized by fire and the Holy Spirit and that they would receive power and that they would be His witnesses throughout all the world.On the fortieth day, Jesus brought them out into the countryside. He lifted up His hands and blessed them. As He was blessing them, He was lifted up into the clouds. While the disciples were looking up into the sky, two men dressed in white stood beside them and asked why they were looking into the sky? They explained that Jesus would return in the same way that He went into heaven. The disciples immediately began worshipping the Lord and returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy. There they stayed for nine days, praying and praising God.

Together with Mary and the disciples, we marvel at what happened. Jesus defied all earthly laws and ascended up into the clouds to sit at the right hand of the Father. We also wait for a gift that has been promised to us. We don't fully understand what it is but we have been told to wait and pray.

Ascension Day is a feast day and is celebrated all over the world. In many countries, there is a “beating of the bounds” where the boundaries of the church property are beaten with bundles of sticks and prayed over. In Portugal, they gather wheat stalks and place them in their homes. In many churches, a statue of the Risen Lord was lifted on wires up through a hole in the ceiling of the church. Then gifts of cookies, fruit, flowers and green branches rained down from the hole and into the church.

Celebrate Ascension by going over the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, sit outside and look at the clouds, fly a kite or make fluffy white meringues. And while you are doing any of those things, rejoice that Jesus did not leave us alone but sent the gift of the Holy Spirit to change us and unite us.

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