All about Ascension Day

Join us at 7pm on Ascension Day – Thursday 13th March 2021 – either in person or for our streamed service, or you can catch up for up to two weeks afterwards. Find out more on our website, where you can also download the service booklet.

Ascension Day, or the ‘Feast of the Ascension of Jesus Christ’, is the day when, according to the gospels, Jesus ascended into Heaven to the ‘right hand of the Father’. This took place on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, which is also known as Mount Olivet. This is where Jesus had been teaching his disciples how to continue his work, and promising them the gift of the Holy Spirit. Because of this, the modern act of mission – spreading the word of Christianity – is connected to Ascension Day.

The day is important to Christians as the ascension shows that Jesus not only overcame death but that he will live forever. It falls ten days from the end of the Eastertide period, a period which is joyous in tone as Christians celebrate the “glorious risen Christ”.

Thy Kingdom Come

Starting each year on Ascension Day, Thy Kingdom Come is a global prayer movement that invites Christians around the world to pray for more people to come to know Jesus. What started in 2016 as an invitation from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the Church of England has grown into an international and ecumenical call to prayer.

You can find out more about Thy Kingdom Come, which continues until Pentecost, on their website. We’ll also be sharing their posts on our social media channels each day.

Christ the King, on the South Side of the cathedral

School Activities / Resources

You can visit our website to find great activities and resources for both Ascension Day and Pentecost.

More about Ascension Day

Ascension Day takes place on the fortieth day after Jesus’ resurrection, with Easter Day being classed as day one. This means that Ascension Day is mostly marked on a Thursday, as it is at Bradford Cathedral, although some churches celebrate it on the subsequent Sunday to allow more people to attend a service, as it’s not a public holiday in many countries, such as the UK.

Because Easter is a moveable feast, this means the date of Ascension Day changes each year, and in Western Christianity it can fall anytime between April 30th and June 3rd. In the Anglican church, it is a principal feast day and the gold or white altar cloth and pulpit falls are displayed.

There are various liturgical customs that may take place on the day including the use of torches in a procession and imagery that represents Jesus’ triumph over evil. A figure of Christ may also be elevated high up in the church building or through the roof.

Some mark the three days before Ascension Thursday, and these are known as Rogation Days, with the Sixth Sunday of Easter known as Rogation Sunday. Rogation comes from the Latin for ‘asking’ and some will fast over the three days as a reminder that their lives are in God’s hands, and the focus in church is sometimes on agriculture and industry, especially in rural parishes.

Facts

  • Ascension Island, a remote volcanic island in the South Atlantic Ocean, was so named because its modern recorded discovery took place on Ascension Day
  • Ascension Day can also go by many other names, including Holy Thursday, a name which inspired William Blake’s poem of the same name

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