The Feast of the Ascension of Jesus Christ is celebrated 40 days after Easter Day, marking the conclusion of Jesus’ postresurrection appearances and his ascension into heaven.
Celebration of this holy day dates back at least to the late fourth century, and scriptural references to Jesus’ ascension occur in both The Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel of Mark:
“So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven’” (Acts 1: 6-11, NRSV).
“So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19, NRSV).
The Ascension of Jesus is also professed in the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed: “He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father” (Book of Common Prayer, pp.120, 358).
Collect for Ascension Day
Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen (Book of Common Prayer, p. 226).