God is Still with Us; We are Still the Church
calendar_todaySun 5th July - 5:50pm
On Ascension Day, we celebrated 50 years of The Church of the Ascension. 50 years of a wonderful building being at the heart of the community. Our celebrations of course were not as we expected them to be, but in many ways the situation we find ourselves in now served to remind us more clearly about the story of Jesus’ Ascension, and how he calls us to be the church. Reflecting on the story of the ascension, Bishop Paul, reminded us that in these days when we can’t meet physically God is still with us, and the church is still real. Our being the church is different, but God is still with us, and we are still the church doing his work. At Jesus’ ascension, he was no longer physically on the earth, but he left his disciples with the promise of the coming Holy Spirit, and with the command to continue doing his work. We can draw parallels between our current situation and that of Jesus’ ascension. The greatest of these parallels is that we can be sure things will never be exactly the same again.
As the lockdown is eased slightly, and we hear of the possibility of shops reopening, we still do not know how or when we will be able to reopen our churches, and how or when or services will be able to start again. But God is still with us, we are still the church. When we do meet again, things will be different because life has changed and we have changed through the experiences of lockdown. There will be obvious changes like the need to find a way to physically distance ourselves, and maintain strict cleansing regimes. There will be other changes because of how God has developed out spirituality through lockdown. Just as the disciples had to change the way they lived and did God’s work after the ascension, we too will be compelled to experience God through our worship in different ways.
During the time that we have had our services online we have tried some different things in our worship. All the feedback I have received has been incredibly positive, and I would like us to integrate some of these things into our regular services when the day comes for us to be able to go back into church. God will still be with us, we will still be worshiping the same God, but perhaps we will be the church in a slightly different way.
We have celebrated 50 wonderful years of The Church of the Ascension, but if we want to celebrate another 50 years we will need to explore new things. If Jesus’ disciples hadn’t embraced the new and different at his ascension there would be no church today.