Ascension Day

Ascension Day  by Malcolm Guite

We saw his light break through the cloud of glory
Whilst we were rooted still in time and place
As earth became a part of Heaven’s story
And heaven opened to his human face.
We saw him go and yet we were not parted
He took us with him to the heart of things
The heart that broke for all the broken-hearted
Is whole and Heaven-centred now, and sings,
Sings in the strength that rises out of weakness,
Sings through the clouds that veil him from our sight,
Whilst we our selves become his clouds of witness
And sing the waning darkness into light,
His light in us, and ours in him concealed,
Which all creation waits to see revealed .
(From Sounding the Seasons, Canterbury Press: 2012)

I used to struggle with the Feast of the Ascension mainly because of artists’ interpretations depicting pink feet dangling beneath the clouds. This kind of image misses completely the deeper meaning of this feast day which I think Guite’s poem captures beautifully. “As earth became a part of heaven’s story” and “he took us with him to the heart of things.” Heaven is not above us amongst the constellations but at the heart of everything. It is accessible to us now because humanity, and indeed all creation, has been welcomed there in Christ, who dwells in us and with us. As Guite says, “His light in us, and ours in him concealed, which all creation waits to see revealed.”
 
Ascension Day also fell this year on Sorry Day. On this day, we commemorate the apology made to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were forcibly removed from their families under government policies during the Assimilation era (officially 1910–70). Yet despite this apology, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children now represent more than 41% of all children in out-of-home care.  As we remember this day and begin Reconciliation Week (27 May–3 June), what are the questions we need to ask of ourselves, our communities and our institutions? How can we acknowledge the ongoing grief and loss experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island individuals and families, while we also open our eyes and ears to comprehend the pain and inter-generational trauma that continues?
 
We are called to be Christ’s witnesses to the justice and peace of the reign of God, and work for that day. To be such witnesses on earth, means we are joined to the one whose heart broke for all the broken-hearted. May we be people who listen and people who act, filled by the Spirit of the One whose risen and ascended presence in both heaven and earth continues to transform the world.
 
Grace and peace,
Sue+

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