LETTER FROM THE VICAR
May will see the Patronal Festival for church of the Ascension in Wall Heath. Our Patronal Eucharist will be at 7:30 PM on Thursday, 30th May, Ascension Day.
Whatever the disciples felt before the Crucifixion, their feelings must have been different after witnessing the Resurrection? There must have been an even greater sense of awe and astonishment? Then, a few weeks later, many of them saw Jesus raised bodily into heaven, like Elijah.
What were they to think? Where would they go next and what would they do? Feelings of confusion and bewilderment were, perhaps, dispelled by the gift of the Spirit of Pentecost? But it cannot have been easy? The accounts of the early church show people who are trying to find out what God wants them to do, and sometimes getting it badly wrong. Their mission to "baptise everyone" in the world, that Jesus leaves them with, takes a lot of prayer and cooperation to begin to make it real.
It is no different for us. We "have not seen, yet [we] have believed", as the Risen Jesus puts it. We have to translate our own feelings of joy and wonder, confusion and bewilderment at the Resurrection and the Ascension, into how we are church today. This requires prayer, cooperation and time to be open to Jesus, as well as being aware of the reality of the world around us. Just like the original disciples, we have a job interpretation to do for those who do not know Jesus.
The visualisation of a 'Black Hole' in space, recently, made me think about the nature of the cosmos in biblical terms. When Jesus rises from the dead he is in his Resurrection body; the wounds of the cross are there but unnoticed by him, apparently? When he ascends into heaven the body that goes is his human form, but it isn't his mortal body. That has died and vanished, or been transformed? The Resurrection body is already in another dimension of time and space, because how else could Jesus be alive and yet have been humanly dead? Maybe that is the form in which we must be before we can enter heaven? Jesus has been raised by God the Father, which perhaps enables him then to be at one with heaven and to enter it 'bodily'?
Unless we are raised by God to a resurrection life then we are mortal and composed of the stuff of this known universe. Its destination is to ultimately be sucked into a Black Hole where there is no light. I can't think of a better description of Hell? Perhaps the Christian journey is about so uniting ourselves with God's Spirit that we may become justified by Him and escape the destiny of the Black Hole?
The Apostles, by staying faithful to the memory of Jesus and to their feelings about him in his Risen life, were able to develop a new relationship with Christ and to establish the Church. We have to feel our way forward too. We can only do so by being faithful in prayer, by cooperating for the good of the Kingdom and by being true to the mission Jesus left for us, to draw everyone to discover Jesus for themselves, today. May God speak through us, as we interpret the Christian faith for our part of the world that is seeking hope and meaning.