24th May 2020

Ascension Day – Christ Unlimited – when Heaven and Earth meet

On at least 11 different occasions in the 40 days from Easter, the risen Lord Jesus Christ met with confused, fearful, anxious disciples: unexpected at the cemetery, behind locked doors in Jerusalem, on the road out and at a meal, to a crowd of more than 500 people, when they were fishing and back on shore, on a hillside – those meetings bring us encouragement in our lockdown and isolation. For this has been a time when we have needed to be met in our disorientation and anxiety and be given the peace He promised. So on the Sunday after Ascension Day, (last Thursday), when we remember that Jesus left His disciples and “ascends” to His Father, how do we not experience His going as a loss? Haven’t we experienced too much loss lately?

If we understand heaven as being somewhere else, distant and far from us, we might think of this as an ending but the gift of the Ascension is that Jesus does not go to leave us but to bring us closer to God, to take our human lives, our fears, failures, confusion and worry into God’s heart; to bring us to heaven. As He goes to be with the Father, Jesus brings us closer to God than we ever thought possible, so that we can experience His grace, His constant loving kindness for ever. In the ascended Jesus, we are in touch with heaven. And He promises all His followers, all who trust in Him, the gift of the Holy Spirit, God’s power and presence with us and in us. Poured out first for Christ’s Church at Pentecost, which we will celebrate next Sunday.

In the upper room on the last night of His life, Jesus told his friends, “Because I live, you also will live. On that day, you will realise that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you… Peace I leave to you. My peace I give you.” (John 14: 16-22, 26-27)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we do not see You and yet we believe in you. Show us the loving face of God. In Your glorious Ascension, bring us close to the Father’s heart. Be with all those moving heaven and earth to care for others at this time; at this anxious time and at the end of this Mental Health Awareness Week, bring peace to troubled minds; and give to each of us such a sense of your continual presence today and through this coming week that our hearts might be at home with you. Amen.

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