At our celebration of the Eucharist on Easter Day we will hear, as we always do, the account from John’s gospel of the discovery of the empty tomb and a first encounter with the risen Lord (John 20.1-18). He tells how Mary goes early in the morning to complete, what the disciples could not complete because of the Sabbath, the burial ceremonies for Jesus, or perhaps she goes simply to spend a little time with her thoughts in the quiet of the early morning.
John brilliantly gives us a sense of the panic in Mary’s mind as, finding the stone rolled away and the tomb empty, Mary runs to find Simon Peter and tells him, They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have put him. Continue reading “The Lord is risen indeed!”
This week the church celebrates Ascension Day. Traditionally, this is one of the most important festivals in the church’s year. It stands in importance, I suppose, just behind Easter and Christmas. Ranking festivals in this way is, though, a little ridiculous; Ascension Day is what it is and has its own place in the round of Christian observation. Having said this, the observation of Ascension Day has declined over the last few years, perhaps because it is a midweek festival and we like to suppose that our lives are so busy now that squeezing it into our schedules is a low priority. But, I think too that it is the most difficult of all the events of Jesus’s life for us to relate to.
The celebration is all about Jesus taking his leave of the disciples at the end of the forty days following his resurrection. During those days he has by turn astounded, comforted, admonished and encouraged his followers in a range of, often brief, appearances. There are two accounts by Luke, one in his gospel and the other in the Acts of the Apostles. And here lies the problem for modern readers – the accounts of the Ascension. Continue reading “The Cloud”