Christians celebrate Ascension Day every year exactly 40 days after Easter, to echo the 40 days that Jesus stayed with his disciples after the Resurrection. During this time, he met with them, taught them, and opened their hearts to understand the Scriptures. Finally, the disciples witness him lifted up out of their sight as he returns to God.
Even though this feast doesn’t get as much attention as Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost, it is crucial to how we understand Jesus’ ministry of salvation. It is also the catalyst for the arrival of the Holy Spirit ten days later.
The Ascension marks the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, launching the church to take up the Jesus movement. Join us around the virtual table as we explore the joy-filled Ascension Day.
In this Easter season, we are continuing to travel through Jesus’ appearances to his disciples after his resurrection. Today’s story from Luke 24:36-48 follows immediately after two of the disciples meet Jesus on the road to Emmaus. As they are telling their friends about these amazing events, Jesus suddenly appears among them, saying, “Peace be with you.”
They are afraid, thinking they are seeing a ghost. But Jesus reassures them that he is truly alive. To prove it to them, he eats some food and shows them the wounds from his crucifixion. From there, he opens their minds to the Scriptures and speaks with them about his mission.
There is a lot to talk about in this story, from the meaning of peace, to the spiritual depths of an ordinary shared meal, to the fragile human hands carrying the promise of God’s life. Join us around the virtual table as we delve into this post-Resurrection appearance of Jesus.
Rich in tradition, the festival of Christmas brings hope and joy to the shortest, coldest days (at least here in the northern hemisphere!) But more than that, Christmas celebrates the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. This is the beginning of God’s great work of healing and redemption, of reuniting Heaven and Earth, God with God’s Creation. The Incarnation shows us both the love and the humility of God. Join us around the virtual table as we talk about Christmas and the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.
How will you celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ? Please join the conversation! Add your reflections in the comments below or visit the Hope Canteen on Facebook and Instagram.
At dinner time every evening, my children fight over who gets to light the Advent candle. This is one of our favourite Advent traditions. The desire to light the candle has little to do with piety and much more to do with the novelty of playing with fire. Nevertheless, I believe the simple act of delighting in striking the match over time anchors the deeper meaning of Advent. I hope that it at will sink in over years of lighting hundreds of candles. This is part of why I believe that physical traditions of Advent and Christmas are so important. Lighting a candle, putting up a tree, hanging lights, listening to Christmas music, giving to charity, baking goodies, wrapping presents, and more.
Traditions that Accent the Gospel Message
None of these are the Gospel message, but they accent it. They give us a concrete way to express the joy and wonder we experience as we meditate on the birth of Christ. God made us flesh and blood, not just souls. Jesus Christ did not just come as a proclamation. He came as a baby that his mother could hold and caress and physically love. The church has always recognized that we need to express our faith in physical ways. We break bread together in Eucharist, we adorn our church in beautiful colours and fabrics, we sing together, process with a cross, light candles, and exchange the peace. All of this helps us to embody the Gospel in our lives in simple and beautiful ways.
What are your favourite Advent and Christmas traditions? This year, consider renewing your appreciation of what they mean. For instance, when you light the Advent candles, meditate on the fact that fire represents the light of Christ. Or ponder the meaning of what hope or peace or joy or love might mean to you this day. When you put the star on the top of tree, let it remind you of the star that brought the wise men to Jesus. But even if you are not able to enter deeper into these truths this year, just enjoy the physical action of the traditions. They speak nevertheless.