Thursday, 21 May 2020
Dear Friends in Christ,
Today is the great festival day of the Ascension. Today we are called to remember the moment when Christ’s earthly mission was completed and he returned to his rightful place in heaven. Today also marks the beginning of our wait for the coming of the promised Holy Spirit. We have experienced the wonders of the Father as creator of all creation. We have lived with the Son as he journeyed through the totality of what it means to be mortal. Soon we will welcome the Spirt, the sustainer and motivator who was promised to us in order that we might always find the strength to live out the Christian life in a world where there is doubt, fear, suspicion and uncertainty.
Of course, the world is certainly full of all those negative attributes, and more, at this time. But, as Christians, we are still celebrating. We are still in the liturgical season of Easter – a season which does not end until the Day of Pentecost. If we are not careful we can so easily fall into the trap of joining the secular world in curtailing our moments of joy and triumph. Christmas is packed away as soon after 25th December as possible – even though the season does not end until 2nd February. Easter is deemed to have finished when the last chocolate egg has been consumed, rather than the full fifty days later. Even in these strange times, and with all that doubt, fear, suspicion and uncertainty in the air, it is important that we, as followers of Jesus Christ, should not forget just how wonderful his triumph over death really was. Through his willingness to bring forgiveness to us all through his untimely death on a cross, the victory over the grave was complete. The certainty of joining him in his Father’s kingdom became a reality for all who follow him in this life.
At the moment the world feels as though it is poised at a crossroads. We are all still in lockdown, our churches are closed, our schools may or may not reopen for some pupils, our economy is teetering on a knife edge. For me, there has been the added uncertainty of trying to help those who had planned to be married this year as they journey through disappointment and the uncertainty of just when they will be able to make that very, very special lifelong commitment to the one they love. So much is still uncertain and nothing has really changed. Well, not in this mortal world. And yet, during these days, Christ has journeyed to the cross; Christ has risen from the grave; Christ has shown himself to his followers in the most tangible of ways; Christ has ascended to his rightful place at the right hand of God the Father. There is, indeed, so much to celebrate and to be grateful for.
Thanks to God’s grace to humanity, coupled with humanity’s ingenuity, there will be an end to the restrictions and there will be the opportunity for us to celebrate and be joyful in ways we have known previously. But, for the moment and for the good of all, we are not able to do that. Instead, let us not forget the importance of celebration in our lives, and let us not forget that the greatest celebration of all is still going on. Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
With every blessing to you all,