REFLECTION FOR THIS WEEK
By the time you are reading this, the feast of the ascension will have come and gone ̶ but I see no reason why we should not reflect upon it. It is rather a curious scenario, described in the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts but not in Matthew, Mark, or John and I think it is one of those stories which has to be viewed not from an historically-accurate perspective but as myth with spiritual meaning. After all, people to not just whizz up through the skies.
Firstly, it rather depends on the idea of a three-decker universe: mankind on earth, God above in heaven, and hell somewhere underground. Okay if you are mediaeval Christian but I think we have moved on from this concept. Secondly, why do we need this incredibly graphic account of Christ’s last visible appearance on earth? I believe it is to reinforce the divinity of the resurrected Christ: the man Jesus, the mystical Christ-figure, leaves the world to return to his place beside his father ̶ where, indeed, he dwelt from the moment of creation as the second person of the trinity. But there is more: recall that Jesus said to the apostles ‘for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you’ (John 16:7).
Jesus is promising the gifts of the Holy Spirit to the disciples ̶ but, you may say, the spirit has existed with the father and the son since creation. Yes, but the fullness of the spirit came to the waiting church at Pentecost, symbolised by a rushing mighty wind and fire, so in the nine days between the ascension and Pentecost, let us pray that the holy spirit will indeed illuminate the hearts and minds of our sadly-darkened world.
Deacon Douglas MacMillan
O God the King of glory,
you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ
with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven:
we beseech you, leave us not comfortless,
but send your Holy Spirit to strengthen us
and exalt us to the place where our Saviour Christ is gone before,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.