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Rector's View - May 2010

Dear friends,

One of the festivals of the Christian year which does not receive as much attention as it should is Ascension Day. This year Ascension Day falls on Thursday 13th May. We will be celebrating the festival with a Eucharist for the whole Benefice at 7.30pm at St. Mary's, Lidgate. If you are able to, why not come along?

Why is Ascension Day important? The disciples had spent three years with Jesus, watching, listening and learning. They had seen him crucified and then wondrously resurrected. They had enjoyed those unpredictable encounters with him during the forty days after his Resurrection. But now, Jesus is mysteriously taken from them. This was a different sort of experience, save perhaps for those three friends who had witnessed the transfiguration. St. Luke depicts the disciples as being open-mouthed, speechless, staring up into the sky, wonder-full.

I feel that it is important not to try to rationalize the event too much. The 'how' of it is of little importance beside the event itself. We nearly always look for the rational and the explicable. But we need mysteries, to stop us becoming mechanical, to be fully human. Ascension Day marks the culmination of Jesus' life on Earth, in an event which accords to God's thoughts and ways, which are higher than ours.

There is a sense in which the Ascension is a coronation, the enthronement of a King. The battered, bleeding figure on Calvary wore thorns, yet even they had made a crown. But now the ascended Jesus takes his place in heaven and wears a crown of glory.

On Ascension Day we, who are his subjects, triumphantly celebrate his arrival. But we must be no less ready to meet the demands of his Kingship. He makes at least two claims on us. Firstly, he looks for our loyalty. We do not need to be especially sensitive to be saddened by those moments when Jesus was abandoned by the very people whom he had chosen to be the key members of his team. The King looks to us to do better than that in terms of loyalty. Secondly, he asks for our obedience as an expression of our love. "If you love me, keep my commandments." This springs not from a fearful obedience to the rule book of the kingdom, but from a heartfelt love for its King. When we go off the rails it's not just Christ's law that we break, but his heart.

Christ risen, ascended, glorified - we worship him, not only with our lips, but with our lives.

Stephen

Rev'd Stephen Abbott

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Last Modified Wednesday 25 May 2011