Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ascension Day

Today we celebrate Ascension Day, "celebrate", for the majority of churchgoers, being a concept rather than something they will actually take part in.  This day is a strong candidate for the least-observed of the church's principal feasts, suffering partly from its close proximity to Pentecost, but mostly from being forever fixed on a Thursday.  I read a piece once (sadly I can't remember where) by the son of a clergyman, who traced his father's journey of many years before to take an Ascension Day service in some remote country church. There, in the register, he found his dad's own handwriting, saying "nobody came". 

The Ascension also suffers a bit in the doctrinal arena, too, mostly from people who think it's clever to point out that if Jesus really ascended, he would have gone into orbit.  They say this because they have no poetry or biblical literacy. 

The Ascension is important because it marks the final point of the arc of Jesus's work.  The point of him ascending, of course, is not that he goes into the sky as such, but that he is at his Father's side.  He didn't continue into the blue, but was "hidden from their sight".  The ascended Jesus is the Jesus who is vindicated and victorious. He is the one who we can deservedly worship and marvel at, and in a dialogue between earth and heaven, he pours his Spirit into us to make us more and more able to know him and follow him. You don't need to go to church today to remember that, but if you do, then let him fill your heart with his presence and power.

4 comments:

gloriousthings said...

Celebrating Ascension is still happening here in this rural backwater. Representatives from 5 Parishes were with me this morning at 6.30am. We were blessed by the sun, the interested cows and a sky lark. A few years ago when I stood in the rain with just the churchwarden and a local farmer I wondered whether this tradition had a hope of continuing.Today was glorious

Crimperman said...

"You don't need to go to church today to remember that, but if you do, then let him fill your heart with his presence and power."

That kind of makes it sound as if he can only "fill your heart.." if you go to church. I'm sure that's not what you meant though. ;) Great piece though.

Charlie said...

It does sound a bit odd, doesn't it? Perhaps I was thinking that those who do go to church might need to be reminded to do that...

Doug Chaplin said...

We have a bonfire and barbecue after Mass. This year's congregation (half-term) was the smallest I can recall at just under 50 communicants.

Local tradition can be very local.