Last night we had a wonderful Ascension Day service at our church. When we started having Ascension Day services about 5 years ago, we used to get 5-10 people. Last night about 80 people arrived. Still a small number for a relatively large Methodist congregation.
As we celebrated together, we reminded one another of what it means for us to say that Jesus is truly Lord. He is not just another good human that walked the face of the earth. We do not worship Him because we think of him as a good idea. He is fully God and fully human.
Furthermore we focussed on an aspect - which I think is often negelcted in the Ascension Day celebrations -Jesus' teaching on Community.
I have become more and more aware, and have shared it with my congregation (who is responding to this in an amazing way!) that Jesus' message is less concerned with our ability as individuals to answer the questions "Are you saved?" or "Do you know where you will go when you die?". Don't get me wrong - of course personal salvation is vital! The message rather seems to be concerned with community. Community in Communion with God and with one another. Klaus Nurnberger reminded me the other day of how our acts of Christian worship seem to focus more on individual salvation and neglects community all together. At the start of the service we pray to God to forgive "my sins" - what about "our sins"? We listen to the sermon and are often challenged on how we as individuals respond to the gospel. What about how we respond to the gospel? After the offertory and benediction we witness how people rush for the doors without really even looking at anybody else, sometimes clearly indicating that they would like to get out of the church's parking lot before the rush.
This gives me new insight into Moltmann's sense of an eschatological community as described in "The Coming of God: Christian eschatology (Das Kommen Gottes)" or Barth's "Christian Cummunity" replacing the noun "Church".
Now we as a community have committed ourselves to wait together, to celebrate Pentecost. Hopefully this journey will enable us to get to know others better, meet needs and have our needs met. The work of the Spirit.
Blessings to all.