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Blog posts

This is a blog written by the Vicar, Associate Vicar and other members of our congregation, where we'll aim to post some thoughts about the Christian life and what's going on in the world. Hopefully you will find Christian encouragement there for your week, comment on current events and a few thoughts to stimulate your own thinking on topics that relate to being a disciple.

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What does Ascension Day actually mean?
 

By Andreas Jungklaus, 21st May 2022 

 

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”. Phil. 2:6-11

Approaching the Ascension Day in our liturgical calendar a question might pop up about what this moment means and what spiritual impact it can have in our lives. Moreover there are only a few verses that regard this episode that sometimes the Bible itself doesn’t seem to care that much. The Gospel of John doesn’t even mention it whilst the other three Gospels cover briefly the subject in their final chapter. But the ascension isn’t in the text just for a merely narrative way of describing a happy ending in Jesus’ life, is it? On the contrary, the ascension has been one of the central pillars of Christian faith and one of the greatest aspects of Jesus’ life about which more details are found in Acts 1 as a sort of prerequisite for the Pentecost Day. No wonder we profess the ascension event in the Apostle’s Creed with these words: “he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father” – inserted in a sequence of sentences. In fact the ascension gives us a logical sequence about God’s plan of redemption on humanity. Jesus died and was buried and rose on the third day (our Easter celebration) and now ascended into heaven. Each of these events has an explanation to us.


The ascension along with the resurrection marked the victory of Jesus over death. This death could not hold him since he has fulfilled all criteria demanded from the Law in perfect obedience – something completely impossible for a sinful fallen human being like you and me. The Law is the moral pattern of God himself. Our physical death, in other words, is a visible representation of an invisible reality, that is, our broken relationship with the Creator. Jesus being 100% man and 100% God was the last sacrifice needed, the immaculate male Lamb without defect that we learned at Easter that has replaced us and paid for the sins of those who believe. Jesus sprinkled his own blood on the cross just like the Israelites did with the lamb’s blood onto the doorframe in order that everyone who puts oneself under this divine provision might be freed from the angel of death (the spiritual death in our case). The ascension, therefore, seals the Father’s acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice.


In Philippians 2, however, we have a still deeper meaning concerning what is behind ascension: that God exalted Jesus and ascended him to the highest ever known position, to the highest possible rank, to the most glorious name in the universe with the purpose of establishing His Kingdom and so that every dominiom might be cast to his feet (read also Col 1). This left indent we see in verses 6-11 (NIV) brings to us a declaration of faith that we could use in our daily life if we wanted. According to the Judaic concept, the Messiah would be exalted too, the people were even shouting “Hosanna in the highest!” (Mt 21:9) but with a restricted political perspective. In fact the King of Israel was elevated in a tree and elevated bodily into heaven, in a very different manner from what they expected. Two conclusions for our reflection:

It’s not because the Bible speaks briefly on a subject that this very subject isn’t of great relevance. So the fact of the Bible not speaking of a specific theme or speaking little doesn’t mean, for example, that the Bible doesn’t have an answer to that.

Today we can elevate Christ and exalt him with our lives as living offerings in gratitude and love for Him. This doesn’t happen in a Sunday morning service only but every day with our crafts and abilities and studies and arts we also excellently exalt him. The pouring of the Spirit and the messianic kingdom were intimately associated within the Judaic eschatological understanding. Jesus, then, inaugurates this Kingdom in Acts 2 with the Pentecost and for this to happen, he must ascend into heaven just after commissioning his disciples. The Kingdom was already conquered but is still being implemented little by little in this hybrid period of History we live in between the first and the second coming where we are already saved but not fully freed from the presence of sin. 

Andreas Jungklaus, 21/05/2022

Consider the donkey

 

Neil Smalley, 11th April 2022

The donkey is surely among the most ill served of creatures. He hangs his head in a diffident, self-depreciating manner, as though his mind is on something, somewhere else, or perhaps just alone. Being small, meek, mild mannered, he is designated a beast of burden throughout the world, throughout history. He is derided for his sad clown face, with its white ringed eyes. His ears would appear to be designed for a creature three times his size. Think of the proportions of a horse’s ears. And the donkey’s mane seems to be made of old boot brushes. No flowing plume for a tail – just a knotted rope’s end. And as if all this wasn’t enough ill favour for him to bare, there is the voice- the harsh, painful and anguished sounding cry - the bray.

The horse has a melodious voice, and that throaty,’ harrumph’ he does by way of ‘hello’ is quite engaging. What does the donkey get? A voice that seems to come through sandpaper and rusty iron, a voice which is uttered through pain.

The amazing thing is, though, that after the unfortunate donkey had all this opprobrium heaped upon him, on the two occasions when God wanted someone to bear his precious son, where did he turn?

When Joseph was spending his days lifting the heavily pregnant Mary in and out of the saddle, on the journey to Bethlehem, it was understandable to use a donkey. For a horse, Joseph would have needed a mounting block with standing space for two on top. So no horse, then. A camel would have served. The camel sits and stands on command, and the longer legs and longer stride would have made for a much more comfortable ride, in fact the camel is a much more regal, imposing creature.

Then, for the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, wouldn’t a big white stallion, with flowing mane and tail, and full ‘feathered’ fetlocks have presented an altogether more impressive image? Something like Napoleon on his rearing Marengo, in the famous painting, all majesty and heroism.

No. Pomp and circumstance were not the order of the day. The message was one of self-effacing humility. No fanfares, no rallying of rebellion, nor call to arms or show of force. Just a donkey, with coat and palm trim. And even while the children were waving their palms and throwing their coats under the donkey’s pretty little hooves, the Pharisees were already muttering ‘crucify’ under their breath, because this was the plan, remember, and not man’s but God’s.

I wonder, if the donkey could have spoken to us, say, ten days later, what would the donkey have said?

Theologians tell us that dumb creatures have no soul, so cannot enter heaven. Well that is their opinion; they can keep it and I’ll keep mine. I’m sure when it comes time for me to approach the fabled Pearly Gates, I could do it in much less revered company than that of a donkey. If the donkey were not admitted, I think I would need to sit on the grass verge for quite some time before I could steel myself to send him off back down the track, but it won’t happen that way, I’m sure. I know, in my heart, that if I did happen to arrive in company with a donkey, I would be glad of the distraction. I wouldn’t be riding him, rather his coat-tails, so to speak.


 

Diary of an Apprentice - Week 11

 

Hannah O'Donnell, 18th February 2022

Hello again!

This week's blog is a week of GREAT NEWS and encouragement! :)

I'm going to bring an update on all of the youth work going on, that I'm involved in, in our church. There have been so many blessings in the last term that I'm desperate to share with you...

MONDAYS

  • GGANG - we have 4 girls consistently coming along every week. They are bringing both me and Caitlin huge encouragement as they engage in questions, discussions and enjoy having fellowship each session. Such a small group, means we are able to truly build relationships that can flourish through a mutual love of God. We are currently reading through Mark Greene's book, 'Fruitfulness on the Frontline'. We are all learning about the ways in which we can apply the fruits of the Spirit in our own lives to show God's love to our friends and family. Each girl that attends GGANG probably has no idea the effect they are having on my life, but I'm extremely grateful for that small group.


TUESDAYS

  • Tiny Tots - tiny tots is definitely out of my comfort zone but it's been a really great way to serve in the church. Every week we get between 18-25 families coming along, it's an awesome number of people that we are able to reach with God's word and love in a simple yet worthy way.


 

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