Yesterday (May 21), the church observed the Feast of the Ascension commemorating the bodily ascension of Jesus into heaven. Also known as Ascension Day, this feast day is celebrated 40 days following Easter and 10 days before the day of Pentecost. The feast itself originated in the 4th century CE and is often celebrated with a procession symbolizing Christ’s journey to the Mount of Olives. Historically, the Paschal Candle lit at the Easter Vigil was extinguished on Ascension Day.
Sunday we come to the end of the church season known as Eastertide. We have made the decision to “transfer” yesterday’s feast day propers (readings) to Sunday as many do, so that we can hear the story of Jesus’ ascension and explore what meaning that story and mystery might have in our lives today. We have had a rich, albeit unexpected Eastertide this year and one I know I will never forget amidst the backdrop of this global pandemic.
We will continue, as we have now become somewhat accustomed, to gather on-line from our many homes to find a way to be one, to be the Body of Christ, to be community for an hour on Sunday morning. I continue to think about what and how we are being called into these days as we journey together- separate but connected ever so deeply. I could have never seen any of this in our future and I am still taken aback each day as I feel and experience your expanding generosity, engagement and encouragement of me, our staff, our elected leadership and each other.
At a time when I know first-hand of so many communities of faith that are barely holding on and praying for their own survival, we are blessed to be growing and finding new ways to serve our community day by day. Please hold in your prayers all who are wrestling with the loss of community and unknown futures. We will face challenges ahead as well, but today, I stand next to each of you with a heart full of love and gratitude- knowing that we are not alone.
May you never forget that you are loved.