Saturday, 08 May 2021 17:15

Called, chosen, sent to be God's heart

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ascension21 350Jesus showed himself to the Eleven, and said to them, ‘Go out to the whole world, proclaim the Good News to all creation. He who believes and is baptised will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned. These are the signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and will be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; and they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.’

And so the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven: there at the right hand of God he took his place, while they, going out, preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that accompanied it. (Mark 16:15-20)

 

The feast of the Ascension commemorates the return of Jesus to the Father. Jesus leaves in body but remains with us through the gift of the Spirit. We will celebrate the gift and presence of the Holy Spirit in next Sunday’s feast of Pentecost.

The true meaning of our feast today is not found in Jesus’ leaving, but in the way he calls his disciples back together, to re-form them as a new community entrusted with the spread of the Gospel. Jesus sends the disciples out to make disciples of all nations and to teach them his way. But the disciples are not left to do all that on their own. Jesus promises that he is with them always.

Jesus has called the ragged, group of disciples, scattered after his crucifixion, back to himself to form them, fragile and doubtful as they are, into a community for mission in the name of God. The task of the historical Jesus is complete; the task of the church as the living Body of Christ has just begun. It is comforting to recognise that Jesus doesn’t insist on perfection before he calls us and entrusts us with his mission.

This mission is authorised by God and passed on to us through Jesus. It is not about authority over others. It is actually a call to act as God would act, true to God’s heart as Jesus has taught us.

Ever since Easter, we have been proclaiming that Jesus is alive. The feasts of the Ascension and Pentecost help us to realise that we are part of a long tradition of faithful disciples. We have our faults and failings, but our call is to witness to and teach the way of Jesus by the kind of people we are, the values and attitudes we hold, in thought, word and action - to be the living presence of God in the world today.

Download our Celebrating At Home liturgy for today:

pdf Celebrating at Home Ascension Sunday [PDF] (360 KB)
default Celebrating at Home Ascension Sunday [ePub] (1.61 MB)

 

 

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