Ascension Day today. We remember when Jesus ascended into heaven.
Three words came into my mind as I stepped up to the lectern to lead the prayers for tonight’s service. Slightly confusingly at first, each appeared in a different language. But thankfully I managed to translate them in my mind and pray about each in turn in English!
First, Michael. A Hebrew name translating as “who is like God”, meant rhetorically, implying that St Michael the Archangel is symbolic of humility. I remembered God’s grace, Christ’s vision of love and peace, and how he gave everything for that.
Second, religio. The origins of this Latin word are a bit obscure. But a favoured translation of mine and of others I know is that which derives from the word ligare, meaning literally to bind, or connect. That’s what the Church should be. What religion should be. Something which binds us. Connects us. Not divide us.
Third, angelos. The Greek word meaning both angel and messenger. Who Jesus was. What we can all be for one another.
Finally, coming to pray for the sick, the departed and the bereaved, I remembered why we had gathered. Ascension Day. The last words of Matthew’s Gospel from Jesus: And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Jesus lived, rose, ascended, and yet is still here with us. As those departed are. They have not left us. They are not absent. Their presence has transformed. As Jesus’ presence transformed. They still live in our hearts and watch over us as God does. They are not lost. They are in peace. And so shall we be. So we can be.
… in Jesus all shall find their rest, in him the longing earth be blest…