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The Ascnesion

David Young

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Perhaps not the right time of year to ask about the Ascension of our Lord after his resurrection, but I'd like to ask: have any of you Orthodox any idea why our Lord went up? What I mean is, given that he is now located in a raised and glorified but still human body, he must be in a place. Where is he? Why is it "up"? It links with Christians alive at the Second Coming going "up" to meet him in the air as he returns to the new, renewed earth in glory. None of my Evangelical friends has an answer; maybe no-one does. But why is his present location "up", and where is it?
 

LBK

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The service text to the feast should answer your questions:

http://www.anastasis.org.uk/assumpti.htm
 

Bob2

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David Young said:
But why is his present location "up", and where is it?
Where is it? I don't think it has a geographic place in the physical world universe, I don't think we can send some astronauts there. I think it is "up" because the place he was going is higher than, or above meaning more important. The supernatural can not be explained by the natural or metaphysical by the physical.

Why did Elijah go up?

Why did the Spirit of God descend in the form of a dove at His baptism?

Why did Jesus spend 3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth [below]?

How come: "The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God." Psalm 14:2

 

TheTrisagion

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I don't know if looking through all the text of a feast service is necessarily the easiest way to understand the teachings of the Church. Such a text requires context and explanation just like anything else.

I asked my priest this once. He told me that Jesus should not be thought of as being in a place so much as being in a heavenly dimension. He ascended for the benefit of His disciples, not necessarily because He needed to physically go somewhere. I doubt there is any dogma about it other than knowing that He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father, but how physical we interpret that I imagine is up for some debate.
 

Porter ODoran

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Up, away from the center of the earth, up, to the heaven and the farther heavens, is what mankind always has perceived as the place of divinity, much as down is the universal way to the grave. Think of a word like "superior" and all it can convey -- yet it literally means up. This is something in the human, and the Creator who is responsible for it would not overlook it at the time of something so important to mankind as the Ascension.
 

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Human knowledge and understanding is often hindered by the limited capacity of language which cannot always encompass every reality--let alone abstract, spiritual ones. I posit that the Ascension was a transcendent, spiritual event beyond the capacity of language, and therefore beyond the capacity of human knowledge. The disciples merely described it in the best way our deficient language could, just as much of our theology is described through juxtaposed paradoxes.
 

David Young

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TheTrisagion said:
Jesus should not be thought of as being in a place so much as being in a heavenly dimension. He ascended for the benefit of His disciples,
Pure Tom Wright, of course. And probably correct. He went up; the saints now with him in Paradise awaiting the resurrection of the body will (we are told) come down. Inasmuch as he ate the fish on the beach and could invite Thomas to touch him, the body he now has must be in some sense in a place, but I sometimes wonder whether Gehazi's vision also has something to tell us: surrounded by hosts of fire. Yes, maybe a different dimension which invisibly surrounds us. But he could simply have vanished; it could be have been said that the saints will "appear" rather than descend. It still puzzles me. In fact it is the only part of N. T. (Tom) Wright's teaching on the Lord's and our resurrection which seems laboured.
 

TheTrisagion

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I agree that it does seem a bit puzzling, but the belief in a physical location of heaven like the Mormons believe seems far more bizarre to me. The next think you know, we will have some John Hagee type proposing we build space ships to fly to heaven.
 

Porter ODoran

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David Young said:
... In fact it is the only part of N. T. (Tom) Wright's teaching on the Lord's and our resurrection which seems laboured.
A welcome relief, then, from all that teaching of his which seems so facile.
 

David Young

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Porter ODoran said:
David Young said:
... In fact it is the only part of N. T. (Tom) Wright's teaching on the Lord's and our resurrection which seems laboured.
A welcome relief, then, from all that teaching of his which seems so facile.
And there was me being blessed by it!
:)
 

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The word "up" is really used to denote God's place. In the Incarnation, the Son of God descends "down" into man's place. Conversely, in the Ascension, the Son of Man ascends "up" into God's place. Our flesh/humanity (now God's humanity) is taken up into God's place to make it His own.

So, where is Jesus? We certainly know that Christ is still (and always will be) human - He is the same historical Jesus after His ascension. Jesus is in God's place (body/soul). But God's place is not a place "out there, up in the sky". It is here. Christ is physically present, but in such a way that it is in God's place. In other words, Christ's body/Person is not ubiquitous but is accessible at any point and at any time.

We (as individuals) will be in God's place at the Second Coming. Think of Jesus' meal with His apostles after the Resurrection. His disciples did not recognize Him (even though He was there with them physically) until He "revealed" Himself to them. At the Eucharist, Christ is made present with us (physically and spiritually), even though we do not perceive Him with our senses.

Also, when we ask where is Jesus, we need to ask where/when is Jesus. Jesus is physically present with us, but also in the eschaton. So, when we partake of Christ in the Eucharist, it is not "now" but in the eschaton that we partake of Him.
 

David Young

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Twenty Nine said:
The word "up" is really used to denote God's place. In the Incarnation, the Son of God descends "down" into man's place. Conversely, in the Ascension, the Son of Man ascends "up" into God's place. Our flesh/humanity (now God's humanity) is taken up into God's place to make it His own.

So, where is Jesus? We certainly know that Christ is still (and always will be) human - He is the same historical Jesus after His ascension. Jesus is in God's place (body/soul). But God's place is not a place "out there, up in the sky". It is here. Christ is physically present, but in such a way that it is in God's place.
At the Eucharist, Christ is made present with us (physically and spiritually), even though we do not perceive Him with our senses.
I like this; but it still seems odd that Christ should, as it were, "act out" a metaphor by going literally up at the Ascension, and that Paul should continue the metaphor by saying he and we (if we die beforehand) will come down at the Parousia. After all, such language has given rise to some odd geography of hell, earth and heaven over the centuries: we might even call our world "Middle-earth"!

At the Eucharist, Christ is made present with us (physically and spiritually), even though we do not perceive Him with our senses
It may not seem right to such Orthodox as believe our sacraments are invalid and ineffectual, but I often think of the word that is written, "He was made known to them in the breaking of bread." Often I am not conscious of being blessed at the time of taking communion: that is, I am not looking at myself and thinking, "I feel I am being blessed." But afterwards, at other times, the Lord's Supper has a precious sense in retrospect of spiritual nourishment and edification, especially (for me) when I am the minister and the congregation is a warm-hearted, devout one. He does seem to be present, but remains, as it were, hidden at the time, whilst retrospect assures the heart feelingly that He was indeed there, and (as Luke has it) "was made known in the breaking of bread".

But we have moved away from the topic of the thread.
 
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