Minister’s Letter - May 2013
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Forty days from Easter comes Ascension Day, the festival when we recall the risen Christ leaving the disciples to return to his Father. There are two accounts of this, both written by Luke, and both different, one at the end of his Gospel and one at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles so we know that the author was trying to make a theological point not an historical one. The ascension was necessary to remove Christ from the world, but it also asserts his divinity, places him on God’s right hand and inaugurates the kingdom of God with Christ as king.
The early church emphasised that it was the ongoing body of Christ, that, as St Teresa of Avila put it,
“Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours,
Yours are the eyes through which to look out Christ's compassion to the world
Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good;
Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.”
After Ascension Day comes Pentecost, which falls on Aldersgate Sunday this year, 19th May. There is a period of fifty days from Easter to Pentecost, also called Whitsun. In this time the Church was nurtured to be born at Pentecost. The risen Christ gave the disciples instruction and strength, then went from them at the Ascension, then they waited until the Spirit of God came upon them at Pentecost.
John Wesley had a heart warming experience on 24th May, 1738, a revelation of God in which he knew that Christ had died for him. From this moment his faith and his ministry were reinvigorated and it led to the foundation of the Methodist movement.
We stand in this tradition, that we are the visible body of Christ empowered by the Holy Spirit in the world, the people who know the love of God in their warmed hearts and whose lives declare God’s to the world.
Your brother in Christ,