Reflection for the Sunday after Ascension Day and Rob Burrow.

“Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you.” Jesus in today’s Gospel, John 17:1-11

‘Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.’ Confucius

One of the most touching images in the media recently was that of two former Rugby League players taking part in a marathon which raised over four million pounds for Motor Neurone Disease. Both had played for Leeds Rhinos and England but now Rob Burrow was being pushed around the course by his former team mate Kevin Sinfield. After 26 miles through Leeds, Kevin stopped the wheelchair and picked up the helpless Rob, raising him up so that they could cross the finishing line together. Rob later used his electronic voice to say that it was the happiest day of his life – what courage, what friendship and what a glorious end to the first Rob Burrows Marathon for MND!

Two thousand years earlier, another glorious ending took place as a broken body was raised up when Jesus was crucified. As he entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, Jesus declared, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified,” (John 12:23-24) and, as Judas left the Last Supper to betray him, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him.” (13:31) These words referring to glory are not before the Ascension but the crucifixion itself, that terrible end which nevertheless reveals divine power through the depths of love. 

The crucifixion led on to resurrection and ascension, when Jesus returned to the heavenly glory whence he came. Both he and his followers had to accept the parting this involved and, to the very end, Jesus was blessing and encouraging the disciples.(Luke 24:51) But Jesus did not just abandon those who had struggled to understand what was happening – he told them to wait for the power from on high which enabled them to return to Jerusalem with great joy (Luke 24:52) as they waited for this. The story is familiar to us, and we know that the Holy Spirit did indeed come to them at Pentecost and transformed those diffident disciples into powerful witnesses to the love and glory of God in the world. But, at the time, those followers had to believe Jesus and wait trustingly for this to happen – as we face loss, uncertainty or the temptation to be downhearted in our lives today, perhaps we have to do the same, trusting that the power from on high will enable us to rise above the challenges that beset us in our generation so that God’s glory and love can be visible in our lives and world today, too. 

With my prayers; pob bendith,

Christine, Guardian.