Pastoral letter 21/05/2020 The Rectory, Herstmonceux.
Dear Church Members and Friends,
This Thursday is Ascension Day, possibly the most ignored major event in the Christian calendar here in the UK, but it’s a public holiday in much of Europe: France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and also in Indonesia where 90% of the population is Muslim! In the Creed we state ‘And He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father’. It is in the Creed because the ascension of Jesus into heaven is a very important event, but how can we know that it is so important?
I believe that the importance is clearly indicated by the words of Jesus himself “Very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (see Jn 16v7). And this is one of twelve clear references regarding his departure in John’s gospel alone.
Secondly, the actual event is accompanied by Angels. Angels only appear to people when something very important is happening. Regarding Jesus they appeared to others at his annunciation, his birth, at the time of the resurrection and lastly now at his ascension. Four very important events for us all to know about and to understand. The Angels spoke to these first Christians at the time of the ascension confirming Jesus’s words regarding this event that they have all witnessed and reminding them about what is to follow. The Angels at his Ascension mark the end of Christ’s earthly ministry just as they indicated the beginning.
Thirdly, we need to ponder why Jesus needed to leave. If he had not clearly left them his followers would have spent time waiting for him to appear again with yet another resurrection appearance and things would not have moved on (we have eleven of these appearances recorded in the Bible covering the period from Easter Day to Ascension Day). Instead of this he returned to heaven, the control room of the universe, but also the place where all that is of God belongs. Having fulfilled his mission on earth we all now have the opportunity to be saved from sin and be with him later where he is, after our life here on earth.
Interestingly Jesus being in heaven hasn’t stopped him being seen on earth, for instance St Paul on the Damascus road (see Acts 9). It seems that it has rather liberated him from being tied to one earthly location at any one time. Also he can now help us all at the same time in responce to our prayers. A key to understanding to how this can be is through the Holy Spirit who he promised would come after his bodily ascension. Jesus is in heaven applying the results of his work on earth to all who seek to follow him and also guiding history to its rightful fulfillment. Jesus’ parting words in Matthew’s gospel are “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ Amen.
Readings for the week ahead:
Readings for the week ahead:
Sunday May 24th
AM Acts 1v6-14 John17v1-11
PM Psalm 47 Mark 16v14-end
AM Ps 68 Acts 19v1-8
PM Ps 18 1John 2v18-end
AM Ps 99 Acts 20v17-27
PM Ps 107 1John 3v1-10
AM Ps 29 Acts 20v28-end
PM Ps 46 1John 3v11-end
AM Ps 16 Acts 22v30&23v6-11
PM Ps 139 1John 4v1-6
AM Ps 103 Acts 25v13-21
PM Ps 147 1John 4v7-end
AM Ps 11 Acts 28v16-end
PM Ps 48 Jn 15v26-16.15
Services on Radio and TV Each day there is a worship service on Radio 4 Long wave at 9.45am Sunday ServicesOn Sunday Radio 4 has a service at 8.10am and BBC1 at 11.45am and also Songs of Praise at 1.15pm
Also each day The Church of England has fresh services for you to follow both AM and PM on their website using the link below:
We have our own online meetings on Thursday evening and Sunday Morning each week and next week on Monday evening as well.
This week we have an Ascension Day meeting on Thursday evening at 7pm
On Sundays at 9.30am we have a Worship Service with a Bible reading, a reflection on the reading, a time of prayer to give thanks, and prayer for any specific needs we know of and also for the world around us.
We also have a prayer meeting on Monday evening at 7pm for one hour joining with Christians around the world praying with the ‘Thy Kingdom come’ initiative. See:
Also as lock down has been eased it would be possible for any one to have a pastoral visit in a safe setting such as two metres apart in a garden. Please email or phone me if you would like a pastoral visit or wish to join us for any of these times together and I will get back to you.
Our May parish magazine is on this website:
Please continue to pray for one another using the church prayer sheet, and please pray especially for: Brian and Joan Clark, Helen Ford, Jackie Fuller, Sue Freeman, Brian Goulder, Paul Hurle, Constance Martin, Alan Ticehurst, Joy Underhill, Sue Freeman, and Derek Wells.
Please contact me if you require any assistance of any kind,
Tel: 01323 833124
May the road rise up to meet you.