by the Rev. Canon Bill Spaid
Ascension Day is one of my favorite feast days. I love the scriptures, prayers, psalms, hymns, and just the fact that by the time Ascension Day rolls around spring really has arrived here in the north.
Sadly, though, this festival of the church often gets lost in the plethora of graduations, proms, Mothers’ Day, Memorial Day and other springtime events.
I find a whimsical delight in the imagery of the Ascension; our Lord’s sandaled feet dangling from a cloud and the disciples standing with their mouths agape wondering what was going on. I imagine that had I been there I would have been grabbing for those feet trying to pull him back to earth. But the whole point of the Ascension is that Jesus is no longer the Master of a small band of disciples in a particular place and time, but the ruler of the universe who transcends time and place.
Think about how in our prayers we often are grabbing for Jesus’ feet – “O Lord be with us…, O Lord please help me…, O Lord if only… O Lord, please fix/heal/save…” You get the idea. They’re fine prayers, really, but do we also pray with imagination and hope and a longing for what might be in a kingdom that already is.
In the collect for Ascension Day, we pray that as Jesus has ascended into heaven, so may we also in heart and mind there ascend.
I wonder what our churches would look like if we prayed with the imagination of what heaven would be if it was our community. Do we share a vision of hope that enlarges our scope of the world and all that is holy, and embraces a mystery that calls us into new and deeper relationships with God and one another, and the world around us?
I certainly see heaven apparent in many instances in my visits to parishes – where vision and imagination are transformed into generous engagement with their communities in service, and where formation contributes to a lively sense of faith and commitment, and where people feel safe and welcome to participate.
Our Canon Missioners — Val, Anne and I – would enjoy and welcome the opportunity to engage in conversations with you about how we can more confidently look to Jesus and see the hope to which he has called you and the immeasurable greatness in his power in us who believe.
The kingdom of God, my friends, is in our midst.