Tuesday, May 03, 2005

EASTER 7 and ASCENSION Click Here for Readings.
Ascension is one of those church holy days that is a mystery to me. The whole idea of Jesus ascending through the air into heaven is hard for someone who has seen the pictures of earth from space taken by the Astronauts. Instead I think of Glinda in the movieThe Wizard of Oz rising up into the air in her bubble with all the Munchkins waving and shouting "Goodbye, Goodbye" in their little squeaky voices. There are many artistic depictions of the Ascension. Salvador Dali shows Jesus from the disciples point of view and some androgynous heavenly being receiving him. There is an icon showing just Jesus feet as he goes into the clouds and leaving footprints on the rock below. If you use the image search on google you will find all sorts of conceptions of this event. The gospels also have varying accounts. At some time Jesus parted from his followers - there was a sense that they would not see him again in quite the same way. But as he left them it was as though the heavens opened again. As when Jesus was baptized, at the crucifixion when the veil of the temple was torn in two, so at this event the doorway to the full reality of God was wide open - it would never been seen as closed again. I love the response of the angel in Acts - "why are you standing around looking up into heaven?" In another place they are told go to the city and wait for power from on high. The time between Jesus' Ascension and Pentecost is called a time of impotence or a time of waiting by John Westerhoff. Between his apparent disappearance and the coming of the power of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps it is a time when we need to wait - not an easy thing for modern day life. We want to learn patience and we want that now as the old joke goes. The disciples gathered to pray, study and worship as they waited. It was a time of preparation for the ministry that would soon envelop them. Perhaps that is something for us too.