From Fr Anthony
We have moved from Easter into the short season before Pentecost. This is the time to recall the Ascension of Christ. It marks the culmination of Jesus’ life on earth and emphasises his divine significance.
If we find it hard to manage the mechanics of actually going upwards, through the clouds to above the bright blue sky, we can know what it all means. From his birth in the village of Bethlehem, through all his life with its ups and downs, the good and the bad bits, in his brutal death and in his resurrection we can see it all pointing towards the divine. In fact, the life story of Jesus shows us what God is like.
It is beyond our ability to express this. Therefore throughout the ages people have used pictures which point beyond themselves. So when people believed the universe was built in three layers, hades below, earth in the middle, and heaven above, of course, they used that idea to express Jesus heavenly nature, being at one with God. He came from heaven and returns to heaven; upwards, that journey comes from the three-decker universe. We add to that picture one of kings. Kings were the grandest and most important of people, they had real power even the power of life and death over others. So Jesus is King of Kings, Lord of Lords, he is crowned with many crowns and, (a favourite of mine) the potentate of time. Wonderful stuff! Glory is what it is all about. It is hard to explain glory, it lies beyond the pictures we have to use, but we know it when we experience it.
I have the feeling, and there is some evidence in the Gospels, that the human Jesus would be embarrassed, none too pleased even, with the way we traditionally celebrate the Ascension. And that makes it even more glorious, because that is exactly what it is all about.
The divine, God, is not remote not out of reach; God almost shy, waiting to be discovered.
The divine is here and now, in the kitchen, under the stairs, not just only in experiences like a beautiful countryside, wonderful music, or splendid liturgy and ceremony in church.
Glory is all around, shyly waiting to attract our attention. This short season of Ascensiontide invites us in heart and mind to to be raised where we actually are into the heavenly presence of God and to be amazed.
Reading: Acts 1:6-14
So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.
Gospel: John 17: 1-11
After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.
‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.
Intercessions for this week
+ Alan, Bp of St Albans +Justin, Archbishop
Pray for all members of the Anglican Communion around the world
For the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, and all primates and bishops
For members of the Anglican Consultative Council
For the Secretary General, The Most Revd Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon,
For the staff at the Anglican Communion Office in London and the UN offices in Geneva and New York
Sick and Bereaved
Long term: Christina Billington, Judith Hill, Margaret Taylor, Len Bennett, Frank Harris, Lorna Sargaison, Alex Evans, Julie Painter, Alice Jullien
and immediate: Diane Luckraft, Keith Dawson, John and Philip Jennings, Peter Lindley, Geraldine Wright, Bill Stead, Barbara Goodman, David Wallington
ST PETER'S PRAYER BOARD
Whilst it's good that we're now able to stream services from inside St Peter's again, the church remains locked during the day in accordance with government and Church of England advice, even for individual private prayer. However, this is a time when, perhaps more than for a very long time, we all have thoughts and prayers, burdens and sorrows, joys and thanksgivings which we would like to bring to the Lord and share with one another. To this end, we have now created a prayer board on the church's south door facing Fred & Ginger's coffee house, and are providing slips of paper, pencils and drawing pins for you to leave your prayers and thoughts as you pass by the church. As with the prayer board inside the building, Fr Simon will be frequently monitoring the new prayer board and will be using your petitions to inspire his own thoughts and prayers for the world and our community during his daily prayer.
THY KINGDOM COME
Penny Fray has set up a Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/2398629607113015/ to support 'Thy Kingdom Come' The group is set up to pray for the town of Berkhamsted during the 10 days of “Thy Kingdom Come” 21st May- 31st May 2020. This is a global initiative inviting all Christians to pray for people to come to know the love of Jesus in their lives. During this COVID-19 pandemic it seems very appropriate to pray for our town, for all the people in Berkhamsted regardless of their faith. To pray for their health and wellbeing, to pray for the key workers, the NHS staff and for all the shops and businesses in the town, whether they are able to work or not.
During these 10 days different Christian churches and organisations will post Bible texts, reflections, prayers, links to videos, music etc to help and encourage our prayers. If you feel moved to post appropriate prayerful responses please do so. Please encourage your friends, neighbours and families to visit this page too. May God Bless this time of prayer for all of Berkhamsted.
If you do not have Facebook, you can access the resources from the Church of England website https://www.churchofengland.org/more/church-resources/thy-kingdom-come