Dear Friends,

A few years ago, you may remember that Tim Peake became a member of the International Space station crew. He beat over 9000 other applicants for one of the six places in the astronaut training program. He is one of the few British citizens that can describe being lifted up from the earth and looking back down on it. Truly the greatest ascension experience we could imagine as human beings.

Ascension Day was on Thursday and it describes our Lord being lifted up into heaven (without the use of a Russian Soyuz rocket).  

In Walsingham in the shrine church there is a chapel that commemorates the Ascension. To describe it in a physical form above the altar there is a cloud and out of it two feet stick out. One of my colleagues as we stared at this in the middle of winter, with snow and ice on the ground, couldn’t help but think that the feet of Jesus could do with some socks! The heating was, as in many churches, struggling with the cold.

Clearly a very difficult event to describe especially in plaster and paint.

The Ascension is however a mystery and to attempt to put it into words that which is beyond words and to describe what is beyond description is impossible.

This was the end of one period and the start of another. The disciples were not going to have the pre-crucifixion Jesus or the resurrected but pre-ascended Jesus anymore. Until the events of Pentecost, they were to feel very much on their own. The fact that they spent the time away hidden during this time emphasises the fear and loneliness that they were to experience in this time of limbo before the Holy Spirit descended on them.

 The Ascension had to be a dramatic event.

 It had to illustrate that this was another change for them to face and cope with.

 And to understand that Jesus once again would be different to them.

So first of all, it was an ending but secondly it was to be a wonderful new beginning.

The disciples were able to leave that mountain with a spring in their step. To leave without grieving for the departure of their teacher, master and friend.

 It had given them hope and as they knew that Jesus would always be with them.

 That they were not to be alone.

We all know that feeling of leaving a funeral and the pain of leaving the coffin and the physical form of our loved one behind.

 Here the disciples where shown what we do not see.

 The veil covering our future was once again parted slightly.

 They were shown that there was a higher power at work.

 They were given a truly faith enriching event to see them through the difficult times in the days and years ahead of them.

What was faith building for the disciples should also be faith building for us too. The Ascension of Jesus into heaven should be for us a revealing event remembered and celebrated in this important feast of the Church.

It gives us the hope that God will wrap us up in the reward of being in his presence when for us this earthly journey is over.

The Church has taught for 2000 years not only that Jesus now sits on the right hand of the Father, but that he is there with God for our sake.

Our prayer this Ascension Tide should be for our eyes to be opened to the promise of that salvation. This after all is the hope of our faith.

We should pray for some glimpse of that truth, some breath from a more lasting world than that of our present world.

Our present world is so subject to change, stress and disruption, this Ascension Tide more than most.

The Collect for Ascension reads :-

Grant, we pray, almighty God,

that as we believe your only-begotten Son

our Lord Jesus Christ

to have ascended into the heavens,

so we in heart and mind may also ascend

and with him continually dwell;

who is alive and reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen

Let us pray this prayer today that we may more fully understand what God has done for us and how we are called to ascend with him.

Every blessing    

Vicar Robert