Here I am riffing on a “Thought for the Day” message from 2012, thinking about what Christ’s Ascension tells us about God’s love and His presence.
We are not alone, YOU are not alone . . .[Edit : 16/06/16]
I have not been able to get “Thought 4 The Day” (Radio 4) out of my head . . . so this is a quick blog to deal with that . . . the context is Ascension Day . . .
Ascension Day. The day in the Church year when we remember that Jesus returned to the Father. What also seems to have now been increasingly emphasised is that the disciples were left ALONE . . . and, as with some of the theological gymnastics employed on that Thought 4 The Day . . . therefore, so are we.
We need to make our peace (according to the contributor) that we are ALONE.
Thing is – we are not ALONE (I want to say – or rather sing – YOU are not alone, I am here with you, though you’re far away, I am here to stay . . . but I think I will start “getting my Jackson” on, so I won’t).
We are not alone. Luke gives us two accounts of the Ascension In Luke 24 and Acts Chapter 1 – in both Jesus is promising the Holy Spirit, in Luke he talks about the disciples being clothed with power from on high and in Acts, Luke adds that they will be witnesses to the ends of the earth and that they will be baptised in the Spirit.
In the Church calendar, I GET that there is a gap, chronologically, between the ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit. However, that is NOT our present reality! We live in the age after which the Holy Spirit has come, the word continues to go forth, witnesses continue to travel to the ends of the earth bearing God’s story and His very life withing them . . . WE ARE NOT ALONE.
We remember that Christ has come at Christmas, we remember that Christ has died and risen at Easter, we remember that ascension happened and the Spirit was poured out at Pentecost . . . but, historically, this stuff HAS already happened.
We state these things as a PRESENT reality such as today (ascension = we are along because Jesus has gone) I think we are missing the point! Jesus is still to return, but Jesus is also reported as saying in John’s gospel (John 14 lays the ground work), “it is for your good that I go . . . because then the counsellor can come” (John 16) – Jesus, in his physical body, despite the ressurection . . . cannot BE everywhere, with all of His people . . . but God, the Holy Spirit can . . . and, more importantly IS.
I have said that I get it . . . but there are lots of people who are listening to Thought 4 the Day who would have heard someone from the Church saying to them on that morning (I know, back in 2012) . . . you are alone (not as a moment to reflect about it between now and Pentecost, because that wasn’t mentioned . . . just simply, make peace with it. you are by yourself)
Well, whether you read this or not . . . I am going to say it again YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
What is extraordinary, and shows the challenge the church has in marrying the “church calendar” with the reality of the Christian life . . . is that – according to the lectionary, the day after Pentecost, we move into . . . not “Power from on High Time“; not “You are never alone again time.“, not “I will never leave you nor forsake you time.” and not “Incredible time with the Holy Spirit” . . . no, we enter “ordinary time”.
Right now, you are not alone (whether we are talking between ascension and pentecost or any other time) . . . and do not believe for a moment that there is a time of “ordinariness” in the Christian life.
The “same power that raised Christ from the dead is in you” (Romans 8), when will any day ever by ordinary again . . . or – for that matter, be spent alone?