Tag Archives: Ascension
It’s difficult to try to imagine the thoughts of the apostles at Christ’s departure from them. He was leaving them but they remembered His words, “I will be with you always.”
So often, although we know & remember these words, we still have difficulty in accepting them – and we feel that we’ve been left alone to cope with all life has to throw against us.
This brings me to this story for this Sunday after the Ascension.
One evening, a father who lived in suburb of London, said to his 10-year-old son, “I want you to join me at my office next week. We’ll take the subway and you can spend some time seeing how I spend my day. Then you’ll come home by yourself so you can get acquainted with travelling by the Tube.” The boy was a bit apprehensive about the prospect of coming home alone but his father assured him he would be fine.
On the morning they left, his father explained all the details of the trip to Town and gave him a written, detailed set of instructions for returning. After boarding the Tube train, his father showed him the maps posted in the carriages which identified all the stops and all the intersecting Underground lines.
Everything went smoothly and they arrived in the centre of London as planned. However, the young lad was still apprehensive as his father took him back to the station for the return trip home. He had the instructions, he had his father’s assurance he would do fine but he still worried.
As he waved goodbye to his father and boarded the train, he immediately checked out the map of the Tube line on the opposite wall of the carriage where he was sitting. Sure enough, all the stops were outlined. He got off at the correct station and, just as his father had shown him, found his way to another platform where another Tube line passed through, and, as his Dad had promised a train soon pulled in. He boarded and as he again studied the map he was relieved to see that his “home” station was just 6 stops away. Now, he felt more confident. When the train approached his station, he got up, stood in from of the exit door and when it opened he breathed a sigh of relief … he had made it.
His mother was there to meet him. She hugged him, and to his surprise, she then put her arms around a man who was immediately behind him in the exit queue. It was his Dad! His father had been in the carriage behind his all the way. His father had been with him all the time. There had never been any need to worry. His father took his arm and aid, “Son, you know I will always be with you when you need me.” As he locked arms with his mother and father, a very confident, happy young man knew he was surrounded by those who loved him.
Those who are parents can relate very easily with the father of the young boy. Who would ever leave a child unprotected? If we feel that way, don’t you think Christ is even more committed to our well being.
I think it’s very important for all of us to understand that no matter what the problem may be, no matter what the circumstances, Christ has promised He will help us.
Jesus performed His first miracle changing water into wine, not because of some earth shaking situation, but merely because a young Jewish couple would be embarrassed if their guests knew they could not afford enough wine. He fed 5000 people even though His apostles told Him, “We can’t help these people.” He was there when Lazarus died, when Peter was sinking into the lake and He will be there for us when we need Him.
As it was in every one of these situations, Christ expects that we believe, that we have faith and that we put that faith into action. The father asked his son to take specific actions: check his directions, find the maps, change to the proper train, get off at the right stop. The little boy didn’t know it but there was no possibility of his making a mistake or getting lost. His father was with him during the entire trip. So, Christ is with us.
Our journey through life may at times seem hard and the road may seem rough and long and twisting and difficult – but he’s with us, and always will be with us, wherever we may travel: a comfort, a guide, a companion and friend: the one who says of himself I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
He travels with us, and he will never desert us….never
It’s often very difficult to say ‘goodbye’ – especially if it’s a member of the family or a close friend who is going away for a while. Railway stations, airports, bus stations and ferry terminals can be pretty awful places at times.
There are many ‘goodbyes’ in the Bible…..
- We’re going to start with that grand old man Moses who led the children of Israel out of captivity in Egypt through the wilderness toward the promised land.
Moses at the end of so many years of service to Israel, is not allowed by God to enter the promised land. He looks back at what they have done together, then he looks forward, and bids them farewell.
He says goodbye to his people – ‘Happy art thou, O Israel’ he cries, ‘A people saved by the Lord.’
He knows that God has protected them in the past, and has no fears for their future – for he knows they are in God’s safe keeping.
- Then there is Jacob, a very elderly man. What a long and exciting life he has led; what a man he has been.
Then had come the loss of his son Joseph, whom he had believed had been killed. But years later, Joseph, now a great man in Egypt, was reunited with his family.
In his old age, Jacob moved with his entire household down to that strange land to settle there. He lived in Egypt, but his heart was still in his homeland of Palestine.
Even as he lay dying and said his goodbyes, he begged that his body should be taken back and buried in the land he loved..
- Then there is the parting between Jonathan and David.
Jonathan was a prince, the son of King Saul, and David was a shepherd boy, and they became very close friends. But David was perceived as being a rival to Saul, so the King forced them apart. They met secretly to say goodbye, embraced and wept.
Then Jonathan said these last beautiful words:
‘Go in peace…the Lord shall be between thee and me…forever’
They had to part, but in their love of God, they would always be one.
- There is the parting between St Paul and the elders of Ephesus
The old Apostle, having done his work in these parts, is on the way back to Jerusalem.
He knows that he is running into danger, and, therefore, says goodbye to his friends. Even grown men at such times can break down in tears, so Paul asks them to stop as they are making things harder for him.
How these Christians really did care for one another.
- And lastly we come to the story of Christ saying goodbye to his friends at the time of his Ascension
It should have been a terrible occasion. Here was Jesus whom his disciples had known so wonderfully, and who had changed their lives forever, now going away from them.
Here was the one who had brought God into their lives in a real and living way, now saying his goodbyes. What a blow that should have been.
But when they parted, the disciples went back to Jerusalem, ‘filled with great joy’ as we heard. ‘Filled with great joy’ Why? Because they had his promise that although it was goodbye and an end of meeting together in the old way with him before their eyes, it was the beginning of his being with them in a new way.
He would be with them, in spirit, always. And not just with them, but with us too.
- In our lifetime, there are many goodbyes and some of them can be hard, even painful.
Imprinted in my mind most vividly is my beloved wife asleep on her death-bed – just a matter of hours before she died. I bent over her, kissed her on her forehead and said “Thank you; I’ll see you again soon enough somewhere, some time. You’ll be safe”
We never have to say goodbye to Jesus, he is with us forever.
Remember what he said ‘ I am with you always, even to the close of the age’ And he is, as king of kings & lord of lords – and in that we can all rejoice.
Salvador Dali, 1948
It is the day the Church celebrates Christ’s ascension to sit by his Father’s side. The mental image we have is that Christ simply “floated” into heaven. Once when preaching to group of very young children on this day several years ago, a minister asked the children what they thought the disciples saw when he ascended.
One little boy answered innocently, “I see the bottom of Jesus’ feet!” Apparently, Salvador Dali felt the same way!
Composers Matthew Bridges and Godfrey Thring Write Crown Him with Many Crowns (from “Share Faith”)
In the 1800s there was great tension between the Catholic and Anglican churches (see: History of Hymns). Crown Him with Many Crowns is a wonderful example of how God takes the troubles of man and turns them around for good (Romans 8:28).
The song was originally penned in 1851 by Matthew Bridges (1800-1894), who once wrote a book condemning Roman Catholic theology, and then later converted to Catholicism. Bridges wrote six stanzas, based upon Revelations 19:12, “…and on His head were many crowns.”
Godfrey Thring (1823-1903) was a devout Anglican clergyman who was concerned that this popular hymn was allowing Catholic theology to be sung by protestant congregations. And so he wrote six new verses.
The 12 stanzas have been mixed and matched down through the years. Interestingly, of the following six verses most commonly appearing in hymnals today, three were written by Bridges (vs 1,2,and 4) and three by Thring (vs 3,5 and 6).
Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne.
Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing of Him who died for thee,
And hail Him as thy matchless King through all eternity.
Crown Him the Lord of love, behold His hands and side,
Those wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified.
No angel in the sky can fully bear that sight,
But downward bends his burning eye at mysteries so bright.
Crown Him the Lord of life, who triumphed over the grave,
And rose victorious in the strife for those He came to save.
His glories now we sing, who died, and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring, and lives that death may die.
Crown Him the Lord of heaven: One with the Father known,
One with the Spirit Through Him given From yonder glorious throne.
All hail, Redeemer, hail! For Thou hast died for me;
Thy praise and glory shall not fail Throughout eternity.
Crown Him the Lord of lords, who over all doth reign,
Who once on earth, the incarnate Word, for ransomed sinners slain,
Now lives in realms of light, where saints with angels sing
Their songs before Him day and night, their God, Redeemer, King.
Crown Him the Lord of years, the Potentate of time,
Creator of the rolling spheres, ineffably sublime.
All hail, Redeemer, hail! For Thou has died for me;
Thy praise and glory shall not fail throughout eternity.
“And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:11)