"Lifting up His hands He blessed them"
Take a look at the stained glass window picture adjacent to this text...
I think you will quite quickly see why it is known as the "Blancmange Window"!
This is a photo given to me by the son of a lifelong member of All Saints church, Anne Fleeson. Mark Fleeson lives on Holy Island and is the warden of the church there. He told me the local name of the window!
(You may like to digress here into memories of blancmanges made in moulds which became rabbits with raisin eyes and which were set upon green jelly to make the best party dishes ever! - Those under a certain age, I am told, don't even know what a blancmange is! Shame they missed out!)
Back to the stained glass window which is an image of the Ascension of Christ. Almost at the apex of the window is a cloud and above that the sun, but the disciples are below the cloud. So we may wonder if they are aware of the glory of God beyond. Perhaps we should all ask ourselves if we are aware of God's glory pervading all things.
When we think of Jesus ascending into heaven; returning to His Father and in effect leaving His disciples and therefore we may feel, leaving us, then maybe the world may seem to be a world without God. Today especially, we may feel this, as our world as we once knew it no longer exists. But Jesus hasn’t gone away. He has gone deeper into the heart of reality – our reality and God’s. To His disciples He became far more than a visible friend and companion; He showed Himself to be the very centre of their lives and of ours. He is the source of loving energy in the world & the source of our prayerful, trustful waiting on God. He has made us able to be a new kind of human being, silently and patiently trusting that God is active and at work, in this strange new world we have entered.
So, if the world looks and feels like a world without God, the Christian doesn’t try to say, ‘It’s not as bad as all that’, or seek to point to clear signs of God’s presence that make everything all right. The Christian will acknowledge that the situation is harsh and whilst probably desiring a return to normal, may, in fact, be brave enough to acknowledge that perhaps normal wasn't really working for many anyway. Our age was an 'Age of Acceleration': if we didn't like the clouds above us we drove quickly on to another place to seek another opportunity to find a better experience. This was the kind of mantra that led our society.
...Then the world slowed down.
Amidst the troubles and darkness, we could find that we were all encircled and enclosed in the light, love and presence of our God. When we began to grasp this we found we could move out of the cloud and towards the glory.
Ascension Day is the start of 'Thy Kingdom Come'.* This is a global prayer movement which the Archbishop of Canterbury is inviting people around the world to join. He is calling on Christians to pray that people might know Jesus Christ during a focused time beginning on that day and ending on the Day of Pentecost.
It’s not complicated – the Archbishop’s invitation is simply asking people to pray in whatever way they want, with whoever they want and wherever they can, that others might know Jesus Christ. Perhaps we can begin it here now:
As we wait in silence, make us ready for your coming Spirit...
As we long for your refreshing; make us ready for your coming Spirit...
As we long for your renewing, make us ready for your coming Spirit...
As we long for your equipping; make us ready for your coming Spirit...
As we long for your empowering, make us ready for your coming Spirit that those we know and love, may with us see beyond the clouds to the dazzling light of Your Glory today and always.
Rev Janet Owens.
* For those who would like to explore more about Thy Kingdom Come we have information and resources here.