Hanna Varghese is a Malaysian artist who often works in batik, as she does with this image of the ascension. Varghese was born to Christian parents, and she remembers her mother taking her to a different worship service every week: “My parents encouraged me to attend different churches so that my siblings and I would appreciate the liturgy and traditions of the Christian believers of different denominations. Christians are a minority in Malaysia so we continue to struggle for our identity in a Muslim society.” The ascension reminds Christians everywhere of the coming of God’s Spirit and that the reign of God is a universal one not bounded by nation states.
The Augusta Victoria Hospital sits on the highest point of the Mount of Olives, one of the sites claimed to be the place from which Jesus ascended into heaven. Administered by the Lutheran World Federation, hospital staff serve Palestinians who are living in the midst of occupation.
A friend of mine, a professional scholar of the New Testament but no great fan of attempts (such as Rudolf Bultmann's) to "demythologize" its witness, recently told me about his visit to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.