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May 14, 2010

Old order parking 5/13/10
Apparently, following services on Ascension Day, members of the old order communities go shopping as we noted far more teams in the parking lots than usual yesterday.  Many of the local businesses provide parking sheds for the teams. This photo was taken in New Holland Pennsylvania.

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"Taken Up"

After He said this, He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven" (Acts 1:9-11).

I forgot all about a special day in the life of the church yesterday until I noted that my old order friends were not at work in the companies we serve as chaplains.  Ascension Day is set apart as a holy day which is commemorated with a church service for the old order Mennonites and Amish.  These communities of faith in our area place great emphasis on this special day. As we traveled through that part of the county yesterday we noted that several stores and businesses were closed in recognition of Ascension Day.

There are several very specific events in the life of Christ and the church that we commemorate. At Christmas we celebrate the wonderful incarnation and birth of Christ. On Good Friday we focus on His sacrificial death and on Easter His glorious resurrection. On Sunday, May 23, we will observe Pentecost.  But for some reason Ascension Day doesn't get nearly as much attention in most church traditions.

Today's Scripture portion gives us the most complete record of the Ascension found in the Bible.  Jesus had just reinforced the Great Commission, the church's primary mission of reaching the lost, and then "He was taken up before their very eyes."  This was important for the disciples to witness and is an essential part of the Biblical record. It reinforces that Jesus Christ is God and that He returned to His home in heaven 40 days after He was resurrected from the dead. An ancient creedal statement of the early church is found in 1 Timothy 3:16, "He was taken up in glory."

Then two angels of the Lord dressed in white assured those early disciples that, "This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven."

The angels' promise of His return is reinforced and elaborated on throughout the New Testament. Paul calls it the "blessed hope."  One day, soon, maybe even today, this glorious event will take place.  Let us faithfully serve the Lord, and look to Him who now sits at the right hand of the Father, until that great day is fully realized!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, though we don't know the day nor the hour, You already have the blessed event of Christ's return on Your heavenly calendar.  Even as the Son of Man ascended into heaven He will come again, but this time we have the blessed hope of ascending with Him and joining with those of like precious faith.  Thank You for loved ones and witnesses of the truth who have repeated this glorious life-transforming message to us over the years preparing our hearts for this major event.   Help us to be faithful and eager for the blessed hope of Your second coming when believers on earth will take up eternal residency in heaven.  In Your name, Jesus, we pray and watch for Your reappearing.  Amen.

Gold Finch 5/13/10
Many birds feed at the feeder directly in front of Brooksyne's desk but she sure prefers the colorful ones, such as this goldfinch!
She took this photo through the window.

Bunny & squirrel feeding on bird seed 5/13/10
All who feed birds knows squirrels are not welcomed at the feeder. However they are welcomed in our yard as they feed on the dropped seeds like this one who is joined by a neighborhood bunny!  Brooksyne would rather the bunny eat the dropped seed than munch on the growing lettuce in our garden.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"One Day"  Video  We both love this old hymn by J. Wibur Chapman. The tune is a contemporized rendition by Jeff Johnson and is different than we normally sing, but thankfully the powerful lyrics are not altered.  This song alludes to the ascension with this verse, "Now is ascended my Lord evermore."

"Crown Him With Many Crowns"  Video  

"Christ In Me"  Video  Shannon Wexelberg

"The Greatest Thing"  Video  Shannon Wexelburg

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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