"Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.”

Karl Barth, 20th-century theologian

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He led them out as far as Bethany, where he lifted his hands and blessed them. As he blessed them, he left them and was taken up to heaven. They worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem overwhelmed with joy. And they were continuously in the temple praising God.

Luke 24:50-53

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Today’s passage is the reason we call this coming Sunday “Ascension Sunday.” You may have seen paintings of this scene with Jesus standing on a cloud or rising up toward heaven on a golden beam of light as the disciples look on in surprise.

The great thing about this moment is that it highlights the mysterious identity of Christ. As Christians we believe that Jesus Christ was both fully human and fully divine: not half and half, not mostly divine and a little bit human, not all divine disguised as a human. We affirm that Jesus is 100% divine, 100% human.

In the Ascension we see that the baby who was laid in a filthy feeding trough, who grew up in backwater Galilee, who ate with sinners, and who was executed by the state was really God in flesh. We see that the God of the universe took on humanity fully— all the way from a lowly birth to a gruesome death— all to show us what God is really like.

Caitlin Harper

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God of Heaven and Earth,
You are both beyond my understanding
And closer to me than my next breath.
Wake me up to the weight of your love for me—
That you would take on humanity
To show me love.

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Knowing that the God who has authority over the whole universe made you and loves you, how will you celebrate this week?

Caitlin Harper

Caitlin Harper is a graduate of Candler School of Theology at Emory University. She has just been approved as a provisional elder in the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church. She currently lives in southeastern Pennsylvania on a small-scale organic farm.

Attitude of Christ

Jim McConnell -

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