Readings for Easter 7:
Monday: Acts 19:1-10; Psalm 68:1-6; John 16:29 – 33;
Tuesday: Acts 20:17-27; Psalm 68:7-20; John 17:1-11a;
Wednesday: Acts 20. 28-36; Psalm 68. 28-35; John 17. 11b-19
Thursday: Acts 22. 30; 23. 6-11; Psalm 16; John 17. 20-26
Friday: Acts 25. 13-21; Psalm 103. 1,2,19-22; John 21. 15-19
Saturday: Acts 28. 16-20, 30, 31; Psalm 11; John 21. 20-25
In the far-off days when I was a student, we greeted Ascension Day by climbing the tower at the College of the Resurrection at what seemed an unreasonably early hour to sing ‘Hail the Day that sees Him rise’. The brethren of the community would gather outside to listen and then we would all go to church for the High Mass followed by a festive breakfast (which meant we could talk!). Heavy rain and wind put paid to Fr Mark and I doing the same this year (Fr Geoff being exempt because of distance) but it has been a joy to have a three-day celebration of the Ascension, spread over the three churches.
The Ascension is our commissioning to go out and live and share the Good News. It is a sign of God’s trust in us and His presence with us – “I will be with you always to the end of the age” does not demand a physical presence so much as a spiritual certainty. Next week, on the feast of Pentecost the empowering takes place and the mission begins. It succeeded: remember that 1/3 of the world’s population is Christian. It still continues – which is where God places his trust in us to live faithfully and well. Whilst it is probably reasonable to say that 1/3 of the population of the town at least would call themselves Christians there is a gap between avowing something and committing to it. Which is where our challenge lies…….
The church halls are now gradually re-opening for business: the activity groups started back last week and socially-distanced meetings are now permitted with up to 15 members, with everyone bringing their own refreshments. We still have a way to travel along the road to freedom, coffee and a shared plate of biscuits; the worrying ‘hotspots’ in England are a concern for all of us.
Work continues on improving our audio-visual presentations. The loop in the St John the Baptist is off for repair, we have fitted a new woofer to the sound system and are awaiting improved Bluetooth. A variable-focus camera is now onsite in All Saints, linked to the sound system; this should take away, we hope, some of the issues and complaints about audibility. Whatever happens in the future Livestreaming is now part of our life: we get a regular 30+ engagements (people listening to the whole service) ever day and a very much higher number of views. A new (for us) way of sharing the Good News.
This is the last Sunday of Eastertide, our fifty-day celebration of the glorious Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
May His love and compassion touch and inspire your lives.
The head that once was crowned with thorns
is crowned with glory now;
a royal diadem adorns
the mighty Victor’s brow.
The highest place that heav’n affords
is his, is his by right,
the King of kings and Lord of lords,
and heav’n’s eternal Light:
The joy of all who dwell above,
the joy of all below,
to whom he manifests his love,
and grants his name to know.
To them the cross, with all its shame,
with all its grace, is giv’n;
their name an everlasting name,
their joy the joy of heav’n.
They suffer with the Lord below,
they reign with him above;
their profit and their joy to know
the myst’ry of his love.
The cross he bore is life and health,
though shame and death to him;
his people’s hope, his people’s wealth,
their everlasting theme.