Yep! The world is still there, so what do I do now?!
Curate Contemplations on Acts 1:6-14
Acts 1:14 They all joined together constantly in prayer.
Perhaps, like this bear, we are wondering what our world will look like as we venture out of our hibernation and lockdown. As the saying goes, “time waits for no man” and, as we poke our noses out, we can see the seasons moving on and our church calendar transporting us from the solemnity and wonder of Easter towards the anticipation and glory of Pentecost.
Our reading in Acts this weekend is profound and so vital to our understanding of how, as Christians today, we continue to participate in sharing the message of God’s love and salvation with those around us, just as the disciples did at the time of Christ’s Ascension.
This week, we have had the opportunity of ‘Rogation’ days. Traditionally, it is a time for fasting and asking God’s blessing on the crops for a later, bountiful harvest. A common feature of Rogation days was the ceremony of beating the bounds, in which a procession of parishioners, led by the Vicar and churchwardens, would proceed around the boundary of their parish and pray for its protection in the forthcoming year. It may not be possible to meet together for such an activity, but perhaps your daily exercise, or your quiet time at home, could become a focussed prayer time of preparation to ask God’s blessing on our community as it begins slowly to emerge from its hibernation. It will undoubtedly be enriched by such prayer. If, like many people, you feel unsure about undertaking such an action, imagine the situation of the disciples – confused, longing for Jesus to restore the kingdom to Israel for all to be well. His presence since the resurrection had been reassuring but then, in the most miraculous way in front of them, He is taken up and is gone.
However, the Ascension is not about absence but about presence and intercession. God in Christ has not abandoned us here on earth; Jesus promised the gift of an advocate, a helper to equip us for the task ahead. The Holy Spirit is described as a ‘breath of heaven’ given to followers of Jesus to ensure the living presence of God going with them and in them, to inspire their work as witnesses to His love.
So, when we feel helpless and confused at how to approach our changed communities, pondering how we bring that presence of Christ alive for them, we may consider that the disciples’ first action was to pray constantly. They needed to understand the ‘bigger picture’ – that Christ had to fulfil the scriptures and that heaven and earth are joined by His risen and now ascended body. We, like the disciples, prepare for the future, but not alone; the same ongoing presence of Christ is still available to us, giving us the wisdom and confidence to take our place as God’s disciples in our neighbourhoods.
I greatly admire Mother Theresa who is a profound example; she writes: “go out into the world today and love the people you meet. Let your presence light new light in the hearts of others.”
So, let’s not worry about what we will do, but know that as we emerge into the bustle of community life again, we simply have to represent, by our presence, the light and love of Christ to those we meet.
Prayers and Blessings to you all,