Jenny’s letter 12th May

Dear Friends,

As I write, it is Ascension Day. It is a little unusual getting to Ascension so early in May. One of the most memorable celebrations of Ascension that I have been part of, was when I celebrated the Eucharist at dawn on top of Bidston Hill, a short distance from the windmill. Not only was it outside on a hill, which was wonderful, but it was also unforgettable because the high wind that day made keeping a cloth, a book, and the bread on the table nearly impossible. 

Sadly, Ascension is often left out of the calendar of major celebrations by the people who consider Christmas and Easter so important. 

I don’t mean that the church does not celebrate it, but that its members don’t always join in. It can be tricky on a Thursday, I admit, but we do manage Good Friday on a weekday! Perhaps it is, in part, that we do not recognise the central importance of Ascension. 

What is that importance? Tim Keller a great pastor, teacher and defender of the faith argues in his book Encounters with Jesus: Unexpected Answers to Life’s Biggest Questions (Dutton) that the Ascension makes an enormous difference.

He writes, “The ascension, when understood, becomes an irreplaceable, important resource for living our lives in the world—and it’s a resource no other religion or philosophy of life holds out to us.” From a theological perspective, Jesus, who is fully human and fully divine was going to take his place as the new king and head of the human race. Second, having ascended, Jesus was no longer limited to a time and a place. 

As a result of Jesus’s ascension, Christ is available to all, across every age and time and space. He is supremely powerful and, having ascended, he is sovereign over every element of the created order. Because of his sovereignty over all things, we can live with peace in our hearts. Jesus is at God’s right hand. 

As one of my daughters often comments, ‘God’s got it.’ Jesus is directing everything and for each one of us. The ascended Christ guarantees that you can know you are forgiven, accepted, and delighted in by God the Father. He is our advocate who intercedes or mediates constantly for us. 

Keller explains: “So when the Bible says that Jesus stands as our advocate and representative before the throne of the universe, it is a way to say that he is ascended and not just levitated. It doesn’t matter what you have been or what you have done. It doesn’t matter how flawed and foolish you are. When the eyes of God the Father look at you, they see the ascended Jesus; when they listen to you, they hear him. When God looks and listens to you, he sees and hears infinite beauty… He sees Jesus not sitting at the right hand but standing on his behalf, advocating for him.” That is powerful stuff and has the power to change the way a person lives their life. Jesus died to pay the penalty of our sin and because he loves us unconditionally. He was resurrected so that we would know that there is nothing to fear from death when we know Jesus. He is ascended and by this rules over all. 

Between Ascension and Pentecost Sunday which, this year is on 19 May, our church will take part in the ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ initiative. As part of this we are all invited to pray for five people who are yet to know Jesus. 

To aid your memory, we have been giving out little bags with five tiny stones. These are to remind you to pray each day for those five people so do put them somewhere that you will see them: perhaps by the kettle; by your bed; next to your Bible – whatever works for you. If you would like to participate more, you might look at where you will find personal resources for prayer as well as daily videos. 

Didn’t make it to church on Ascension day? Perhaps next year. Jesus still sits at the right hand of God and rules over all. He is still accessible to you and I hope he continues as sovereign Lord in your life. Pray for those who are yet to know Jesus and join us for a great Pentecost celebration on Sunday 19 May. Don’t forget to wear some orange, red or yellow if you can. 

Every blessing for the week to come,  

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