Rev. Dr. Christopher I. Wilkins
May 10, 2013
Dear People of Christ Church:
Ascension Day comes once a year, every year, forty days after Easter. Thus, it’s always on a Thursday, when few Episcopalians go to church unless it’s for Christmas or a special program. Although the church allows us to use Ascension’s moods and modes and even readings on the succeeding Sunday, 7 Easter, we lose something, I think, in having not developed this day as a holiday we keep.
Why? Ascension completes the cycle that Christmas (the Feast of the Incarnation) begins: the life, death and times of Jesus of Nazareth on earth. He was born, he lived, he died, he rose, and then he left. That’s in. “Why do you gaze up to heaven, people of Jerusalem?” the angel asked them. You be here and he be gone.
Not gone entirely, just elsewhere. He who is Christ for us, with us, in us and by us is as one with God, and as much God, as it was in the beginning. Whatever this means, it means that for us here in this sublunary world Jesus of Nazareth per se is not someone we’re going to meet in the flesh walking on a road to Emmaus or even Damascus one fine day. We see Jesus through the Christ we see in each other’s faces and in the mirror. We see Christ refracted, as is all of God, in the starry heavens above us and the moral law within us, written on our hearts, just as he spake through the prophets, long ago, that it would be.
The way God is among us as we live is in that person we call the Holy Spirit (née Holy Ghost). God the Father, or creator, we know through creation. God the Son? See above. God the Spirit is what we know most: that fire God lit and lights within us so that we are filled with grace, challenge, hope, faith and, as the greatest of these, love.