What’s the Big Deal about Christ’s Ascension – A Pastoral Newsletter by Pastor Rolf Preus

May, 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

For some years now, wherever I have served as pastor, we have observed the Ascension of our Lord on the Sunday before Pentecost. In fact, the Ascension of our Lord falls three days earlier, on a Thursday, ten days before Pentecost. Years ago, most Lutheran congregations celebrated the Ascension of our Lord on Ascension Day. This practice has largely died out, though I was able to attend an Ascension Day service at Concordia Lutheran Church in Williston last year. This year, we will be celebrating the Ascension of our Lord at Trinity on its proper date, Thursday, May 25.

What’s the big deal about Christ’s ascension? Jesus went to heaven. He’s gone. We know that. We can’t see him. He’s left us the Bible, we can talk about him, we can pray to him, and the Holy Spirit is here with us, but Jesus is gone. Isn’t he?

That’s not what the Bible says, just before Jesus ascended into heaven he said to his disciples, “And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” St. Paul describes Christ’s ascension into heaven by saying that he fills all things. Jesus did not ascend into heaven to be absent from us. He ascended into heaven to be present with us.

Jesus is true man and true God. God is present everywhere. Since Jesus is God, he is present everywhere. But is his humanity also present everywhere? By all means! You cannot strip Christ’s humanity away from his deity as if there are two Christs, one who is God and the other who is a man. There is but one Lord Jesus Christ, true God and true man. Since God is present everywhere, and since Jesus is God, Jesus – true God and true man – is present everywhere. Wherever God is, there is the man Jesus.

Heaven isn’t a place up in the sky above the stars where Jesus is stuck, far away from us. Heaven is where God is. Heaven is as close to us as Christ is. Whenever he speaks and we listen; whenever he feeds us with his body and blood in the Sacrament; whenever the church is gathered together by the Holy Spirit to be fed by Christ the Good Shepherd, there heaven and earth meet. Christ’s ascension guarantees his presence with us. His ascension prefigures our own. When this world is destroyed, we won’t be destroyed with it. We will be taken into the presence of God where we will enjoy eternal love, peace, and happiness in the new heavens and the new earth.

I invite you to church on Thursday, May 25, at 6:15, at Trinity. St. John members are welcome to attend! We will follow the order of Vespers. Come and bring a friend. I can’t think of a greater gesture of friendship than to invite a friend to church!

Your brother in Christ,
Pastor Preus

About Pastor Rolf Preus

Pastor Rolf David Preus grew up on the campus of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, the fourth of ten children, where his father, Dr. Robert David Preus, taught for many years. Pastor Preus graduated from high school in 1971, from Concordia College, St. Paul, Minnesota in 1975 and from Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana in 1979. He was ordained on July 1, 1979, at Trinity Lutheran Church, in Clear Lake, Minnesota. He served Trinity Lutheran Church in Clear Lake (1979-1982), First Lutheran Church in East Grand Forks, Minnesota (1982-1989), St. John's Lutheran Church in Racine, Wisconsin (1989-1997), River Heights Lutheran Church in East Grand Forks, Minnesota (1997-2006), and First American Lutheran Church in Mayville, North Dakota and Grace Lutheran Church in Crookston, Minnesota from (2006-2015). On February 15, 2015 he was installed as Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Sidney, Montana and St. John Lutheran Church, Fairview, Montana. Pastor Preus received his Master of Sacred Theology degree from Concordia Theological Seminary in 1987. His thesis topic was, “An Evaluation of Lutheran/Roman Catholic Conversations on Justification." Pastor Preus has taught courses in theology for Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Concordia University Wisconsin, and St. Sophia Lutheran Theological Seminary in Ternopil, Ukraine. Pastor Preus married Dorothy Jean Felts on May 27, 1975, in Coldwater, Michigan. God has blessed Pastor and Dort with twelve children: Daniel, David, Paul, John, Mark, Stephen, Christian, Andrew, James, Mary, Samuel, and Peter. David, Paul, John, Mark, Stephen, Christian, Andrew, and James are pastors in the LCMS. God has blessed Pastor and Mrs. Preus with sixty-three grandchildren so far.


What’s the Big Deal about Christ’s Ascension – A Pastoral Newsletter by Pastor Rolf Preus — 8 Comments

  1. Very good! I can remember Ascension Day services in Minnesota and New Jersey.
    Texas, “yes and no”…

  2. A good reminder, Pastor. He is risen and with us still. Alleluia.

    Thank you.

  3. Here in Denmark everyone in the country has a day off on Thursday. Part of the culture and old xtian tradition’s. Doubt many folks will show up at church although all the priests in the state church will be serving that day at the special Divine Service morning – Kristihimmelsfartdag

  4. I was a member at a church for a few years that had an Ascension Day service and even a New Year’s Eve service. The Ascension Day service was a big deal and we’ll attended. Probably partly for the fact that the church had a parochial school and the kids’ choirs were very involved in the Ascension Day service. I love it. BTW, I’m a member at St. James Lutheran in Archbold, Ohio. I’ll have to put a bug in Pastor Strawn’s ear about starting a new Ascension Day tradition at St. James.

  5. @Hannah Moss #5

    When I served in rural Minnesota in the 1980’s and 90’s the congregation had a long-standing tradition of having Ascension Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day services. Attendance at those started dropping as the older members died-off or became shut-in’s. The younger members just never showed an interest in attending.

  6. We are inaugurating an Ascension Day Service in our parish this year instead of the “transfer.” Meal at 6 pm. Divine Service at 7 pm. Particularly having a Divine Service rather than Vespers/Compline may help draw special attention to this Day and oft-forgotten Feast of Christ. Following the Service we will have fire-pits up with Lutheran beverages and desserts for those who wish to socialize. Next year we are planning other family activities, gamenight, etc. following the Service from 8-10 pm.

  7. If any of you happen to be in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls (IA) area on the 25th, you’ll have several options for Ascension Day services. Our congregation (Our Redeemer, CF) will be hosting Divine Service at 7 p.m. Services will also be held at College Hill (CF) at noon and Faith (Waterloo) at 7 p.m.

    “Is this heaven?”
    “No, it’s Iowa (District East).”

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