Today is Ascension Day, the fortieth day of Easter – sometimes called the coronation of the king as Jesus returned to the glory whence he came. Tonight, there will be a celebration for Ascension Day from St Martin in the Fields on Radio Four at 8pm – one way of being church together whilst apart!
In St Luke’s account, we’re told that Jesus’ last words to his disciples before he left them were of blessing and that, rather than being sorrowful at their leader’s departure, they were joyful. Clearly, the time spent with Jesus since his resurrection had changed those fearful followers, who initially locked themselves away after the crucifixion. As he left them, the disciples were now able to rejoice and openly praised God in the Temple – what a transformation!
In taking human experience into heaven, that transformation can still continue for us today as St Paul reminds us that Christ Jesus “…. is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” Romans 8:34, NIV. There is much that may make our hearts and spirits sink currently as the Covid-19 pandemic continues but Ascension Day gives us the hope that hearts can still be lifted and voices raised in praise, for “The heart that broke for all the broken hearted is whole”. May Malcolm Guite’s sonnet hearten us as we try to rise to the challenges before us and praise God this Ascension Day!
We saw his light break through the cloud of glory
Whilst we were rooted still in time and place
As earth became a part of Heaven’s story
And heaven opened to his human face.
We saw him go and yet we were not parted
He took us with him to the heart of things
The heart that broke for all the broken-hearted
Is whole and Heaven-centred now, and sings,
Sings in the strength that rises out of weakness,
Sings through the clouds that veil him from our sight,
Whilst we our selves become his clouds of witness
And sing the waning darkness into light,
His light in us, and ours in him concealed,
Which all creation waits to see revealed .