As a young Christian I had the pleasure of knowing Colonel Cook retired. He and his wife had also been Missionaries, they were inspiring to listen to, supportive and encouraging in every way to a young woman who although belonging to the big parish church on the top of the hill, shared with them in the mid-week prayer meeting at the small New Testament church at the bottom. I learnt many things from Colonel Cook, he kept bees and one memorable day, treated my curiosity to a close look at the queen in the hive! I was, so he said, a true Englishwoman and could be relied on to be calm in all situations!
I don’t know about that. I do know that in their long lives the Cooks had many adventures in The Lord where calm and cool courage was called for. A look in the Colonel’s bible was revealing, his must have been amongst the most marked up bibles in the world. He always got ones with wide margins, read and wrote down insights received. When there was no room to write more, he bought a new bible and started over again. Somewhere, I hope there is a book shelf filled with his lifetime’s study notes.
Yet, surprisingly this man of the book, once told me, and seriously, that he considered the Lectionary readings of the Anglican Church were something to be treasured, because, he said you actually get to read and consider the whole of the Story, “There is a lot,” he said,” that is good about keeping set days.”
Perhaps you may have a different view?
This Thursday, our Lectionary Readings and Prayers are for Ascension Day, as far back as Church Records go, this day has been kept to mark the final departure and return of The Lord Jesus to heaven. For 40 days he had appeared after the resurrection, teaching, strengthening and preparing his disciples for their work of witnessing and carrying forward the work of the Kingdom of God.
I have noticed that we always seem to get rain either on Ascension Day itself or a day or two either side, maybe that’s because like a true Englishwoman I notice the weather. The rain of Ascension Day prepares the soil for the sowing of seed at Pentecost, my gardening uncle would absolutely forbid me to plant out Runner Beans until Whitsun (another name for Pentecost), it was reckoned that once Whitsun arrived the frosts would finally be done, the soil is friable. Things sown grow then. The teaching of those 40 days between the Easter Day and Ascension Day, prayed over, pondered over in the next 10 days was sown in the Spirit’s Power when the Day of Pentecost had fully come.
My nephew used to call Ascension Day “Going up Day” while Pentecost was “Coming Down Day” Jesus was taken up into heaven to receive a crown and gifts to shower down. (Luke 24 v50-52.Eph. 4 v8).
Although the Ascension is often ridiculed, it is worth remembering, what ever kind of mental picture you have, that the church from its earliest days has acknowledged its belief in this as an actual event in its creeds, we declare that we believe Christ ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God,
The painting is the work of John Singleton Copley ( 1775) an American born artist.