Taken from the Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of World Religions
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Today’s religious topic is as follows:
“Ascension”, in Christian belief, the scent of JESUS CHRIST into heaven on the 40th day after his RESURRECTION. In the first chapter of THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES, after appearing to the Apostles on various occasions during a period of 40 days, Jesus was taken up in their presence and was then hidden form them by a cloud, a frequent biblical image signifying the presence of God. Although the Ascension is alluded to in other books of the NEW TESTAMENT, the emphasis and the imagery differ. In The Gospel According to John, the glorification described by the Ascension story seems to have taken place immediately after the Resurrection.
The meaning of the Ascension for Christians is derived from their belief in the glorification and exaltation of Jesus following his death and Resurrection. The Ascension indicates a new relationship between Jesus and his Father and between him and his followers, rather than a simple physical relocation from earth to heaven. The Ascension of Jesus is mentioned both in the Apostles’ Creed, a Western profession of faith used for BAPTISM in the early church, and in the NICENE CREED. The feast of the Ascension ranks with CHRISTMAS, EASTER, and PENTECOST in the universality of the observance among Christians. The feast has been celebrated 40 days after Easter in both Eastern and Western CHRISTIANITY since the 4th century.
A distinctive feature of the feast’s liturgy in the Western churches is the extinguishing of the Paschal candle after the Gospel has been read, as a symbol of Christ’s leaving the earth. Despite the suggestion of separation indicated in this act, the whole liturgy of Ascensiontide, through the 10 days to Pentecost, is marked by joy in the final triumph of the risen Lord. One of the central themes of the feast is the kingship of Christ, and the implication that the Ascension was the final redemptive act conferring participation in the divine life on all who are members of Christ.
In the Middle Ages various ritual practices that came to be associated with the feast included a PROCESSION, in imitation of Christ’s journey with his Apostles to the Mount of Olives, as well as the raising of a crucifix or a statue of the risen Christ through an opening in the church roof.
The view of the Ascension presented by Christian art has varied. In a 5th-century painting, Christ is seen climbing a hill and grasping the hand of God, that is, God is pulling Christ into heaven. A version of the Ascension developed in Syria in the 6th century emphasizes Christ’s divinity, showing him frontally, standing immobile in a mandorla, or almond-shaped aureole, elevated above the earth and supported by ANGELS. He holds a scroll and makes a gesture of BENEDICTION. This type of Ascension, which follows the Roman tradition of representing the APOTHEOSIS of an emperor, often figured prominently in the monumental decoration of Byzantine churches. By the 11th century, the West had also adopted a frontal representation. In the Western version, however, the humanity of Christ is emphasized: he extends his hands on either side, showing his wounds. He is usually in a mandorla but is not always supported or even surrounded by angels; thus, he ascends to heaven by his own power. The Ascension remained important as a devotional subject in the art of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, both of which retained the ICONOGRAPHY of Christ displaying his wounds.
Ascension of Jesus
(Comeback on 1/28/15 and continue to learn about religion. Tomorrow you’ll read and learn more about “Asceticism”.
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