Thursday, May 25, 2017, is Ascension Day. This is an ancient observance, kept by the whole church since its early days, even as local variations developed in different countries. Here is a poem on the subject by Malcolm Guite, the poet-priest and chaplain of Girton College, Cambridge. He writes: “the mystery of this feast is the paradox whereby in one sense Christ ‘leaves’ us and is taken away into Heaven, but in another sense he is given to us and to the world in a new and more universal way.”
We saw his light break through the cloud of glory
Whilst we were rooted still in time and place
As earth became a part of Heaven’s story
And heaven opened to his human face.
We saw him go and yet we were not parted
He took us with him to the heart of things
The heart that broke for all the broken-hearted
Is whole and Heaven-centred now, and sings,
Sings in the strength that rises out of weakness,
Sings through the clouds that veil him from our sight,
Whilst we our selves become his clouds of witness
And sing the waning darkness into light,
His light in us, and ours in him concealed,
Which all creation waits to see revealed .
The time between Ascension and Pentecost is also a traditional time for fervent prayer to the Holy Spirit for all her gifts. This year Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, has invited the whole Anglican communion to observe these nine days with a special Novena to the Holy Spirit. Please join in the joy of communal prayer.