Jesus said to his disciples: “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Then he led them out as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them, he parted from them and was taken up to heaven, they did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God.
you have raised our human nature to the throne of heaven:
help us to seek and serve you,
that we may join you at the Father’s side,
where you reign with the Spirit in glory,
now and for ever.
The Ascension has to happen – why? It is painfully obvious both to the early church and to us now that Jesus is not wandering round the world as he did before his death, we cannot sit on the mount and hear him teach. Nor is he as he was when making his appearances following his Resurrection, we cannot stick our hand in his side as Thomas did. Those who knew him stopped seeing him. Even Paul who encountered him in a vision no longer saw him in the same way. The time of locating Jesus to a time and place had gone.
Instead Jesus needs to be present in a new way.
We may get to know him by seeing him in others, we may have a religious experience that convinces us that Jesus died for us, we may meet him through reading about him or listening to others tell us about him, or perhaps for us some other way. What does not change is that God in Christ who died for us, rose for us, forgives and loves us continues to love us as he always did.