7th Sunday of Easter: Ascension Sunday

Lectionary 1st Reading Psalm 2nd Reading Gospel
Anglican lectionary
Acts 1:6-14
68:1-10, 32-35
1 Peter 4:12-14;5:6-11
John 17:1-11
Catholic lectionary:
Acts 1: 1-11
47: 2-3, 6-7, 8-9
Ephesians 1: 17-23
Matthew 28: 16-20


Acts 1 : 6 – 14

Ascension Sunday is often overshadowed by the celebrations of Easter and Pentecost; the Ascension Sunday provides us crucial moment that holds important theological and liturgical significance. It is a moment where we witness Jesus’ departure from this earthly realm, ascending to the right hand of God, commissioning the disciples, and the promise of the Holy Spirit, provides a profound implications for our faith and practice. 

From an ecological perspective, Jesus’ ascension signifies a divine absence in physical form but a continued presence in the Spirit. The Ascension not only signifies divine absence, but it also promises a new form of presence. While all the gospels described the earthly life of Jesus, his death, and various appearances to his followers after the resurrection. However, only Luke describes the moment the appearances ended. The question remains, where did Jesus go? Is he still locatable in space and time, or is he only in a transcendent, placeless realm? What form did Christ take and does the Ascension have anything to do with our own future? 

One solution to this problem was to consider the Church as the continuation in space-time of Christ’s incarnate presence. We might consider ourselves to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world, and continue to discern Jesus within the unfolding of time, replenishing and perfecting the world with the energies of the future. The presence of Christ in the world is not about an actual being, but it about becoming, continually growing, renewing as a living, organic, and growing body of Christ.

Psalm 68: 1 – 10, 32 – 35
In this psalm, we witness the psalmist’s celebration of God’s victorious presence and the scattering of God’s enemies. The psalmist’s imagery of melting mountains and abundant rainfall portrays the interconnectedness of nature and the divine power at work in the natural world.  While the psalmist rejoices in the triumph over enemies, we must pause and reflect on our own role as caretakers of the Earth. Instead of viewing nature as something to conquer, we are called to foster harmony and understanding, recognizing that all creation is interconnected and deserving of respect. Rather than seeing God’s presence solely in triumph over enemies, we can recognize that God’s divine presence permeates all of creation. Each plant, animal, and ecosystem is a reflection of God’s creativity and wisdom. 

Instead of conquering enemies, let us understand our role as co-creators with God, entrusted with the care of the Earth. Our actions should be guided by a desire to preserve and restore the delicate balance of ecosystems, recognizing that our well-being is intertwined with the well-being of all living beings. Psalm 68 highlights God’s care for the vulnerable, including orphans, widows, and prisoners. In the context of ecology, this extends to hearing the voices of those who suffer most from environmental degradation, including indigenous communities and all of God’s creation. The psalmist’s emphasis on justice and compassion calls us to address environmental injustices and work towards a more equitable and sustainable world. Through actions such as responsible consumption, sustainable practices, and advocacy for environmental protection, we express our gratitude for this sacred gift. 

John 17 : 1 – 11
The gospel of John was during the time of persecution, where the stories of Jesus and his ministry served as a lifeline for early Christians facing threats from authorities. The early Christians found courage and inspiration in the counter-cultural message of love, hope, grace, and liberty that Jesus embodied. The spread of the gospel and the martyrdom of many of the apostles created a sense of transition and uncertainty within the Christian community. With fewer eyewitnesses available to reinforce their belief in Jesus as both fully human and fully divine, doubts about his identity arose. In the face of persecution and uncertainty, the early Christians found strength and hope in their identification with Jesus and his ministry. Similarly, as we encounter ecological challenges and doubts about the future of our planet, we can draw inspiration from Jesus’ teachings of love, justice, and stewardship of the Earth. The prayer of Jesus serves as a reminder that in times of transition, we can find solace and guidance through our connection to the divine and our commitment to continue Jesus’ ministry of healing and restoration. 



In our reading from Acts 1:6-14, we witness the disciples’ longing for the full realization of Jesus’ promises and their question of the kin-dom. Jesus responds, revealing the immediate significance of the kin-dom and challenging their expectations. From an ecological perspective, we are reminded that the kin-dom of God is intricately connected to the natural world, and as caretakers of creation, we have a responsibility to honor this interconnectedness. Our actions, no matter how small, hold the power to impact the well-being of the Earth and all its inhabitants. Jesus’ response calls us to see ourselves as witnesses and agents of God’s kin-dom, Jesus’ response challenges us to see ourselves as witnesses and agents of the kin-dom of God, empowered by the Holy Spirit. We are called to testify to the transformative power of God’s reign, responding to ecological challenges. As we encounter ecological challenges and the crises of a wounded planet, we are invited to respond with compassion, justice, and stewardship. 

When Jesus ascends, Acts describes it in “earth-bound” terms, emphasizing the connection to our earthly existence rather than a distant heavenly journey. This challenges our preconceived notions of the divine and encourages us to view Jesus’ exaltation from a different lens. Bruno Latour’s concept of the earthbound complements this understanding, urging us to recognize the interconnectedness of all beings and to acknowledge the presence of the divine within the earthly realm. It prompts us to question the traditional dichotomy between human and non-human realms and encourages a re-evaluation of our relationship with the Earth.  We are called to cultivate a deep appreciation for the intricate ecological systems that sustain life and to recognize our role as stewards and cohabitants of the Earth. 

As we celebrate Ascension Sunday, let us be inspired by Jesus’ response to the disciples and the call to bear witness to God’s transformative power. May we embrace our interconnectedness with the natural world and recognize our responsibility to care for all beings. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, may we respond to the ecological challenges with compassion, justice, and faithful stewardship, embodying the values of God’s kin-dom here and now. 



Closing Prayer: Gracious God, we thank you for the earthbound exaltation of Jesus Christ. Help us to embrace this reality, to cherish the Earth and Earth creatures, and to work for the well-being of all. Guide us by your Spirit as we live out our faith in a way that honours your creatures and reveals your love to the world. In your many names we pray. Amen. 

Rev. Moses Bollam

Rev. Moses Bollam is an ordained minister of the Church of South India. Currently, he is serving as a Pastor for St. Paul’s Church, UCC, New York and is pursuing his doctoral studies at the Union Theological Seminary, New York, in the department of Practical theology.

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