Thursday, May 17, 2007

Feast of the Ascension

Today is the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord, one of the Twelve Great Feasts of the Byzantine Christian Tradition. May our Lord increase our faith as we contemplate the great mercy of His redemption that brings our humanity fully into the presence of His Divine Throne!

A Reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah

It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains,and shall be raised above the hills;and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say:"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,to the house of the God of Jacob;that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths."For out of Zion shall go forth the law,and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

A Reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah

Go through, go through the gates,prepare the way for the people;build up, build up the highway,clear it of stones,lift up an ensign over the peoples. Behold, the LORD has proclaimed to the end of the earth:Say to the daughter of Zion,"Behold, your salvation comes;behold, his reward is with him,and his recompense before him." And they shall be called The holy people,The redeemed of the LORD;and you shall be called Sought out,a city not forsaken. Who is this that comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments from Bozrah,he that is glorious in his apparel,marching in the greatness of his strength?"It is I, announcing vindication,mighty to save." Why is thy apparel red,and thy garments like his that treads in the wine press? "I have trodden the wine press alone,and from the peoples no one was with me;I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath;their lifeblood is sprinkled upon my garments,and I have stained all my raiment. I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD,the praises of the LORD,according to all that the LORD has granted us,and the great goodness to the house of Israel which he has granted them according to his mercy,according to the abundance of his steadfast love. For he said, Surely they are my people,sons who will not deal falsely;and he became their Savior. In all their affliction he was afflicted,and the angel of his presence saved them;in his love and in his pity he redeemed them;he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.

A Reading from the Book of the Prophet Zechariah

Behold, a day of the LORD is coming, when the spoil taken from you will be divided in the midst of you. On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives which lies before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley; so that one half of the Mount shall withdraw northward, and the other half southward. On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea; it shall continue in summer as in winter. And the LORD will become king over all the earth; on that day the LORD will be one and his name one. The whole land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. But Jerusalem shall remain aloft upon its site from the Gate of Benjamin to the place of the former gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Han'anel to the king's wine presses. And it shall be inhabited, for there shall be no more curse; Jerusalem shall dwell in security.

Great Vespers, Feast of the Ascension

Troparion of the Ascension of our Lord in Tone Four

Christ our God who gloriously ascended into heaven and gladdened your disciples with the power of the Holy Spirit: through your blessing, You confirmed them in their belief that You are truly the Son of God, the Redeemer of the World.

Kontakion of the Ascension of our Lord in Tone Six

After fulfilling for us your plan of redemption and joining the things of earth with those of heaven, O Christ our God, You gloriously ascended without abandoning us, but remained with us forever and reassured all who love You by telling them: Behold, I am with you; no one has power against you.

The Reading from the Acts of the Apostles

In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, "you heard from me, for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit." So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Sama'ria and to the end of the earth." And when he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day's journey away.

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Luke

At that time: Jesus himself stood among them. But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have." And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them. Then he said to them, "These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high." Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.

Hirmos of the Ascension in Tone Five

O you who have given birth in time to the One whom no limit can hold, and who thus have become the Mother of God in a manner beyond understanding and beyond words: we the faithful magnify you in unison.

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