We arrived home from London, moving from one world into another, descending to our roots, grounded. Our tabby, Laddie, and our black-and-white longhair, Lady Jane, were glad, their purr a thick thunder, their paws pushing in and out, nesting in our laps, their eyes expectant, longing.
And we returned to the great festival of Ascension Day, the joyous celebration of Christ’s bodily ascension to Heaven, after His resurrection, after His appearing to many witnesses on earth with his new body.
Just so, I thought this morning in the red brick sanctuary of St. Peter’s, just so we too will be given new bodies. As mine ages, I appreciate this thought, for each day brings a slowing down, each day a few more cells die, each day I draw closer to Heaven, and indeed, closer to that new body free from pain.
And just as the preacher said today, as Christ ascended he brought humanity with him to the glory of God the Father. Through union with Christ we ascend, we are resurrected, we are reborn. What a wonderful vision, this vision of God, indeed, the beatific vision.
And as the Scripture for today said, it is only when Christ ascends that we are given the Holy Ghost, the comforter, the strengthener. Through the Church, through the unbroken line of Apostles in our succession of bishops, we are given the Holy Spirit to redeem us, to comfort us, to strengthen us in our weakness until our time of ascension.
I received a phone call as I was writing this, this Sunday after Ascension afternoon. I was told a dear elderly relation passed on to Heaven early this morning. Such a day to ascend, to journey from this world to the next! She now, outside of time, will be given a new body, and that old diseased one that caused such pain and anguish recently, and perhaps such joys in another time long ago, is no longer. Christ, in whom she believed, carried her with him to the Father. She ascended.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude this Ascension Day, as I think upon these mysteries of life and death. I thank God that I have been graced with faith, that the future holds no fear, and that each day of life is a meaningful part of my greater journey.
In the disarray of our world, the volcanoes and earthquakes and tsunamis, the wars of nations and schisms of the Church, the Feast of Ascension reminds us of God’s immense and steady love for us through Christ. We must merely believe and He will not let us go. He will hold us close to His heart.