Today in the Church Calendar is ASCENSION DAY
This marks the end of Jesus’ 40 days of post-resurrection appearances. His work on earth is done and he is now returning to heaven from where he came.
But is his work on earth really done? In one sense it is, but in another sense it continues.
Before Jesus Jesus left, he made it clear that he wanted us, his Church, to carry on the work he had begun. He said that we could do the same things he did and even greater. So before leaving them, he tells his disciples to go back to Jerusalem and there wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
This experience will be their baptism in the Holy Spirit when they will become filled with the very Spirit of Jesus.
But before Jesus leaves them, his disciples ask him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Even at this late moment, they still do not understand the meaning of Jesus’ life and work. They still do not understand what kind of Messiah he is.
Jesus will not just restore the Kingdom of Israel; he will establish a new Kingdom altogether. This kingdom will be open to include all the people of the world. It will not be a political force or a military power. Rather, it will be an eternal and universal kingdom:
a kingdom of truth and life,
a kingdom of holiness and grace,
a kingdom of justice, love, and peace.
The disciples will soon learn this, accept it and promulgate it everywhere. For, after they receive the Spirit of Jesus themselves, they themselves will begin to inaugurate the Kingship of God not only in Israel, in Jerusalem and Judea but in time to the very ends of the earth. This is their mission – and ours: to carry the message of Jesus to the whole world.
As Jesus spoke, he is covered by a cloud, clearly indicating the enveloping presence of God. He did not go ‘up’ like a rocket – because heaven is not ‘up’ there, except in our symbolic thinking. Heaven is another dimension and may be nearer than we think! He is wrapped in the all-embracing presence of his Father, symbolised by the cloud, and steps into that other dimension.
How can we make the presence of Jesus known today? When people see us, do they see Jesus? When people see us, do they want to know Jesus? When people see us, do they want to join our community, share our life, and take the Gospel as the foundation of their life? That is the meaning of the Ascension.
COLLECT FOR ASCENSION DAY
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that as we believe your only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ
to have ascended into the heavens,
so we in heart and mind may also ascend
and with him continually dwell;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Here is Charles Wesley’s great hymn for Ascension Day
“Hail the day that sees him rise”
ONGOING PRAYER REQUESTS
DOCTORS: Damian Mayo, Jenny Mayo, Charlotte Cox
NURSES: Caroline Frost, Penny Hensman, Ruth Tunski, Jenny Olding, Stephanie Smith
POLICE: Tom Wrenn, Scott Brodrick (RN)
FUNERAL DIRECTORS: Ian Parker
NURSING HOMES: Jemma Frizelle
RETAIL AND FOOD DISTRIBUTION: Chris Jones (Sainsbury’s home delivery driver), Christine Horton (BP Garage, Portchester), Nick Knight (Tescos at Cosham), Natalie Ejemai (Tescos at Fratton) Debbie Foster and
Wendy Castle at Morrisons, Horndean, Keith Fleming-Brown (preparing hot meals for distribution to the
community)and Mark and Wendy Pyatt (delivering food through Portchester Community Centre to the community)
If you have a special prayer request we will put this on the page and ask for your prayers. Contact the Vicar on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 02392 375422.
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