Ascension Joy


From “I Want to Live These Days With You”, a book of Daily Devotions from Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Translated by O. C. Dean Jr.

Ascension joy – inwardly we must become very quite to hear the soft sound of the phrase at all. Joy lives in its quietness and incomprehensibility. This joy is in fact incomprehensible, for the comprehensible never makes for joy. It is the incomprehensible – and yet true, real, and living – that brings joy. Therefore proper joy itself is something incomprehensible, both for others and the one who feels it.

Joy is simply there – ascension joy is simply there – when the church speaks of Christ’s exaltation above the world and of his coming again, when he himself meets his joyfully awaiting church in the sacrament. Joy is there, not loud but restrained. The world makes it anxious. Sin makes it anxious – but it is there as the heavenly joy of slaves who wait in the night and keep wait with burning lamps until their dear master comes home (Luke 12:35-40). All the joy of Christ in this world is anticipatory – and who will betray out loud their anticipation of joy? And yet what joy is greater than anticipatory joy? Anticipation then, in expectation of what? In expectation of the last things. The Lord whom we do not see but nonetheless love: he will come again.

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