Reflection for the Seventh Sunday of Easter and Christian Aid Week. 

 “…Why do you stand looking up toward heaven?” From Acts 1:6-11.

‘Christ, whose glory fills the skies.’ First line of the hymn by Charles Wesley. 

This week, many people have been looking up to the heavens to glimpse the glory of the Northern Lights, enhanced after a huge geomagnetic Sun storm. They were at their best on Friday night but, although many looked for them again on Saturday, they weren’t so widely visible. The magnificent displays gave a foretaste of the glory of which Wesley wrote, a reminder of Christ’s return at the Second Coming prophesied in the Bible. The power of the storms also meant that electronic communications via satellites might have been affected, just as the power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost transformed the lives of those first disciples, energising their mission and the growth of the early church.

That power is available to us today, too, in great and small ways. This is the Seventh Sunday of Easter and also the Sunday after Ascension Day when the Ascension of Jesus is a focus. However, this year’s reflections for Christian Aid highlight Burundi in Africa’s Great Rift Valley, where climate change and extreme poverty affect the welfare of many families. One woman, Aline Nibogora, found herself on the streets and separated from her children after domestic abuse ended her marriage, facing a future which could not be planned when each day was simply about survival. However, she was eventually able to attend a Christian Aid training course which then gave access to a small loan which enabled her to grow a few avocados and peanuts. That gave Aline an income which meant that she could eventually buy a bicycle to transport her goods and then find a place to rent so that she had somewhere to live and could have some of her children back. With hard work, teaching and careful planning, she and her family now have hope for the future. 

A few avocados and peanuts made a difference that is perhaps overlooked when shopping – what is purchased and where can make a huge difference to the grower. However, climate change causing droughts, floods and landslides means that many challenges lie ahead for Aline and her family – but a strong community where a neighbour is regarded as part of the family may mean that resources and help can be shared. Perhaps we have much to learn from Aline’s hard work and perseverance as we consider what challenges us today and how we can rise above what threatens to drag us down. The Ascension of Jesus also brings hope as he takes humanity into the heart of heaven and enables us to see the glory in creation that is all around us – whether the Northern Lights are visible or not!

With my prayers; pob bendith,

Christine, Priest Guardian.