O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen. (Seventh Sunday of Easter: The Sunday after Ascension Day BCP 226)
The gospel stories tell that forty days after Jesus was resurrected, Jesus ascended into heaven. Luke shares two slightly different versions of Jesus' Ascension in the books of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. (Luke 24:50-53, Acts 1:6-11) However, then there are another nine days until Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit. In the medieval church, these nine days were considered preparation days for the coming of the Holy Spirit and special prayers were created for preparation. This is where we get the term Novena, pertaining to nine days of preparation. Later traditions used the idea of a novena for other times of the year as well.
Since yesterday was the feast of the Ascension, we are now in the nine day preparation time at the end of the Easter Season for the coming of the Holy Spirit. In the church today, we commemorate these events in a both/and manner. Given the events actually happened two millennia ago, we have already received the Holy Spirit into our world and in our hearts. So we remember the event and pray for the coming even though we know the Holy Spirit has already come to be with us. However, we also commemorate the coming of the Holy Spirit within us and pray for the renewal and re-invigoration of the Holy Spirit in our lives, so that we may follow where Jesus has gone.
Come Holy Spirit, Come!