Sunday 14th May 2023
Last week Jenny talked very personally about change…
Next Thursday we celebrate the Ascension – which marked a very big change for Jesus’s followers at the time, in that they saw Jesus physically leave them and knew that this time they really were on their own…
Or were they… We read this week in John’s Gospel (John 14;15-17), that Jesus will intervene with God and ask for help for us – Called different names in different versions of the Bible – Friend, Helper, Counselor, Advocate, Comforter. All of those names encompass all that the Spirit of Truth ie. the Holy Spirit is for us. The disciples were told, (in Acts !:1-11) just before Jesus ascended that they were to go back to Jerusalem and wait for this gift that would prove that Jesus was still with them and would continue to empower them. Did Jesus ‘s Ascension galvanise and energise those disciples or did they leave the Mount of Olives feeling dispirited and deflated? The suggestion that the Ascension was witnessed by more than just the chosen 11 disciples (a replacement for Judas had not yet been chosen) is borne out by the words of “The Great Commission”, that we find in Matthew 28:16-20
“Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you.”
In other words tell people about me and encourage them to join in to be my disciples too! That commission still holds today and is what we are all encouraged to do as a people of faith, not just those of us who “talk at the front of church” but everyone who listens too! It sounds scary but basically is about being willing to have conversations with people you meet about Jesus, faith and what a difference it makes in your life. We are often put off by having these conversations in case we don’t know the answers or that we might need to defend God but as a wise woman once said “Don’t be worried about that, God is big enough to defend himself” (Bishop Rose – Aug 21).
There won’t be a service in church to celebrate Ascension Day but instead celebrate yourself by making space and time to have one of those conversations with someone.