The Lost Holy Day

There are many unanswered questions regarding Tuesday night’s train wreck that killed eight people and injured more than 200 others. “Experts said the train’s speed in the moments before the crash raised several questions: Could a technical glitch have caused the locomotive to speed up so rapidly? Would it take a deliberate action by the engineer? Or could human error, a medical issue, or some other factor like clumsiness explain the sudden burst of speed? Sumwalt said the train, as designed, can only be accelerated by manual control, but the NTSB would examine whether a mechanical malfunction could have caused the train to speed up on its own.”

Another unanswered question is the report that “An assistant conductor told NTSB investigators on Friday that she heard the engineer, 32-year-old Brandon Bostian, talking by radio with the driver of another train from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). The other driver reported that his windshield had been cracked by a projectile that he believed was either fired from a gun or thrown at the train. According to the conductor’s account, Bostian replied that he believed his New York-bound Amtrak train had been similarly struck after pulling out of its previous stop, Sumwalt said. It was moments later that the Amtrak train barreled into a curve at more than 100 miles per hour (160 km per hour), twice the speed limit, in the city’s Port Richmond neighborhood along the Delaware River.”

While there are many unanswered questions, one thing is abundantly clear, eight souls unexpectedly departed this world for all eternity that night. Two of those were from Maryland, a U.S. Naval Academy midshipman going home for a visit with family and a Howard County businessman heading to New York for a business meeting. More important than all the unanswered questions is the finality of death, of a soul leaving this world and entering into that eternal state of existence.

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The Lord whom we worship is the only one who has conquered death, the only one who has risen from the dead and then moved into that eternal state. We celebrate His death on Good Friday. His rising from the dead on Resurrection Sunday, but there is that event of His exultation that is often overlooked.

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What a people memorialize and celebrate reveals some significant things about them as a people. It reveals what they value, what they hold as important, it communicates a standard by which other things are measured. In our world, the celebrations are called Holidays, which the meaning of that English word was a consecrated day a religious festival. Though that meaning is lost on most people today, nonetheless at the founding of our country, those patriotic celebrations such as the Fourth of July were religious days of observance and celebration.

When we think about those Holy Days not specific to our country, but to all Christians worldwide, there are those days we clearly recognize as rooted in Christian events, such as the birth of the Messiah, His death on the cross and Resurrection. Less often recognized is the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. I have never seen a wall calendar that acknowledges the Holy Day I am speaking of, which took place this last Thursday.

It is not that this Holy Day was never celebrated. Indeed some such as St. Augustine say that its celebration was practiced in the apostolic era, and it was certainly celebrated in the days of Johann Sebastian Bach who composed several cantatas and the Ascensión Oratorio to be performed in church services on this feast day. Even in our day there are still 19 countries where it is a public Holy Day, but only two of those are in the Western Hemisphere and none are in North America. Sadly, this Holy Day that has been lost in our land is the Day of Christ’s ascension to heaven.

Please take few moments and read the monumentally significant event 40 days after the resurrection of Christ from the dead in Acts 1:1-8.

Andrew Bonar, commenting on the laws found in Leviticus said, “It’s not the importance of the thing, but the majesty of the Lawgiver, that is to be the standard of obedience…Some, indeed, might reckon such minute and arbitrary rules as these as trifling. But the principle involved in obedience or disobedience was none other than the same principle which was tried in Eden at the foot of the forbidden tree. It is really this: Is the Lord to be obeyed in all things whatsoever He commands? Is He a holy Lawgiver? Are His creatures bound to give implicit assent to His will?” Peter T. Forsythe was right when he said, “The first duty of every soul is to find not its freedom but its Master.”


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