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.
A few months ago a member of my church asked me “why do people think Jesus is bodily in heaven and not just a spirit? I pointed out this Holy Day to him and he was shocked to learn we have a day specifically dedicated to celebrating Christ’s bodily ascent into heaven. We then talked about how Christ experienced the fullness of humanity and how a part of being human is being taken up to the Lord one day. Christ’s ascension gives us a foretaste of what is to come as he is our first fruits. This can beg the question: Is Christ no longer with us? Of course, he is! Christ ascended so that the Holy Spirit might descend upon the earth and inflame God’s people. We who are in Christ, we who abide in Christ that is, know that Christ is still abiding in us. It’s a mutual indwelling. As we abide in Christ as his Church, so he abides in us as his people.
This collect points out that that is not always easy to recognize, though. The Church does not always act, reflect, or worship like Christ is truly abiding in her. He is, though, and we pray for eyes to see that, for ears to hear that, and hearts to know that. We pray that we might recognize where Christ is abiding with us and how he is abiding with us so that we might abide in him better. We pray perceive Christ’s abiding presence within us so that we might be empowered to go out into all the world as the body of Christ here and now. This collect calls us to remember that Christ is still active and moving among us. It is a reminder that we as the people of God are called for mission. You can imagine it as Christ taking the command room and is now instructing his Church from there while leaving also being very much present to his people through the power of the Holy Spirit that is to come at Pentecost.