Contemplation on John 16 for Ascension by Revd Willem Boonstoppel, Aberdeen

We are so small, and the world is so big. We are so insignificant and not able to change anything. A tiny drop of water will evaporate in the hot sunlight and rise upwards to the heavens, become part of a cloud and travel around the world. Then, when it is bound to a speck of dust, it will become a drop once again and rain down on the earth. Can we be like these drops of water? Can we rise up to the heavens, embrace the world and connect ourselves with it and rain down again, bringing new life to Earth?

At first glance, we might think the disciples have lost their teacher for a second time. After his death on Golgotha, and the wonder and joy of seeing him again so soon after, now he leaves them alone again. But if we put the last sentences of the three synoptic gospels together in a different way, we can hear:

“Go forth and be the teachers of all peoples….and see, I am in your midst until the completion of earthly time.” – And while he was blessing them, he vanished from their sight , and they returned to Jerusalem with great joy – and they went forth and proclaimed the message everywhere, and the Lord worked with them.

And in the Book of Acts, the two angels say:

this Jesus will come again, revealed in the same kind of way as you have now seen him pass into the heavenly sphere…

So they are not alone. Christ might have disappeared from their sight, from the physical realm, but because of this he is able to now appear in a higher dimension. There he will continue to work. And as he did not leave his disciples alone, he did not leave us alone. And he tells us: “pray from the heart, and it will be given to your heart!” He is not lost to the earthly sphere. And like Christ is ascending to the realm of the Father, we human beings can learn to follow him, and return to that realm ourselves. So we can reunite with the Father. Every year at Ascension preparations are made for it, and slowly, step for step, this can become a reality. This may become a force of Peace within us. “I have said these things to you, so that in me you may find the peace”. Peace is not a gift of the world, it is a gift of a higher dimension, a gift of Christ. One that we can use to help others, to help the world, like nourishing rain.

In the process that begun at Easter, Christ has shown us the way through tribulations, through suffering and pain. And now, the strength of the Ascension festival lies in the fact that it allows us to share in an truly uplifting experience. In following him on his journey for ten days, climbing the ladder step by step rising through the nine hierarchies until he arrives in the realm of the Father, from where he can send the Holy Spirit and enable Whitsun to happen. Comforting us: “Take courage, for I have overcome the world”.

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