The Whitehaven Manse
'I believe in Jesus Christ ... On the third day He rose again; He ascended into heaven, He is seated at the right hand of the Fa ther,' so says The Apostle's Creed one of the great statements of faith of the Christian Church. Words many Christians say at least once a week. Words we too use from time to time. Yet we rarely do anything about the Feast of the Ascension. I can probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I have preached on the subject or attended services on the day.
So what is this great Feast of the church, which we so regularly ignore, all about. The ascension of Jesus means the out pouring of the Holy Spirit, which enables the church's mission under God. Of the gospel accounts of Jesus' ascension, this is most clearly shown in John's Gospel. For there we see that the Spirit can only be given when Jesus is glorified.
When Jesus departs this earth for His heavenly realm, the church receives the gift we could not receive before. Therefore, as we see illustrated in the writings of Luke, the end is but a beginning. It is the going of Jesus which makes possible the coming of the Holy Spirit.
It means that as heaven touched earth in the incarnation, so that contact is maintained, in two senses. Jesus has taken our humanity, the humanity He shared, into the presence of God. And yet God is still among us in the Holy Spirit.
As we look at the gospels, we see there was and is a special link between the risen Jesus and the awareness of His presence by the church in the service of Holy Communion. In this service we have a foretaste of what is to come when all things, in heaven and on earth, are gathered up into Christ and He is all in all.
Until then, confessing the risen and ascended Jesus as Lord, the church lives in hopeful confident witness by the power the Spirit.
When is Ascension Day? This year it falls on Thursday May 13 (40 days after Easter and 1O before Pentecost).
Your friend and servant in Christ,
In Person Worship
When the Whitehaven Elders met on April 13, we reviewed again the date to restart in person worship and concluded that we would go with the recommendation of the Synod Moderators and wait until Pentecost (May 23). That we will remember our twinning link with Pearson Street and celebrate Holy Communion – once again if you are attending in person, you will be asked to collect your bread/wine as you enter the church.
To date we have no further guidance from Her Majesty’s Government about singing as a congregation. Although a choir can sing, and we have explored the idea of constituting the congregation as a choir, the number of choir members are limited essentially to the number of microphones we have (5) and they have to be spaced 2m apart.
Dave has also decided, in preparation for his leaving later this year, to return to the pre covid preaching pattern so that Linda can once again start inviting other preachers to fill the pulpit – we will have a fall back whilst Dave is here, that unless he is on holiday, he will still be sending out worship by email and post when he is not in Whitehaven. It is also possible the services in church will be available on Zoom.
We look forward to seeing you all again soon.
Every blessing and stay safe.