It’s five months since Christmas – where does the time go? Then, we celebrated the incarnation – God came to dwell with humanity – perhaps the most widely celebrated Chrsitian festival. If Christmas were to be a bookend, today, we put the second one in place at the other end of the row – the Feast of the Ascension. Today we celebrate the return of Jesus Christ to be with his Father. If, at Christmas, Jesus came to bring God to us, here, on Ascension day, he takes us to be with God.

The children at our Messy Sermon Group were discussing Ascension Day last Sunday. They decided that, in heaven, this would be an occasion for a VERY BIG PARTY, hopefully with a bouncy castle! I can just see Jesus enjoying himself on a bouncy castle! I suppose there are some echoes of the parable of the Prodigal Son, although Jesus didn’t squander his money on luxury living and fast women. But there was a joyous homecoming and a party there too. Perhaps today was part of the inspiration behind that particular parable – that much awaited homecoming.

There may be joy in heaven, but on earth, we hold our breaths. Jesus is gone. We are bereft. God with us is gone. Imagine how the first disciples felt – bereaved for a second time in six weeks. First the crucifixion, and now this. Jesus tells them to wait – to wait in the city. Of course, we know that the Spirit will come – we know because this is part of our annual cycle at church. Pentecost is 10 days away. Today there is a pause. Today, we stand with all those who are bereft – those who have lost loved ones, homes, livelihoods, life, faith. This year, as we are so aware of the terrible tragedy unfolding in Ukraine – and it is very far from being the only such place – we are especially aware of this strange festival where there is great joy in heaven and great lostness on earth. Perhaps this year, especially, we can consciously inhabit this lostness and use it to reflect on our own losses, and the losses of others in the world around us. And we can hold all these losses in hope as we wait, as we have been asked to wait, for the Comforter to come.

Amen

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