Our Gospel today for the Ascension of the Lord, is taken from what is called the longer ending to Mark’s gospel. Verses 9-20 of Mark 16 were added by another scribe or author who didn’t like the abrupt original ending of the gospel in verse 8. This author wants us to know certain things about the community that Jesus commissions. Jesus calls the church – which means every one of us – to preach and tell the good news of Jesus to any who have never fully heard it. The church is called to heal both mind, body and spirit. The church has power beyond itself. And the church is never alone in its work, for Jesus continues to work in us, and with us, and through us.
The Ascension of Jesus is a strange feast day! The various attempts to depict the ascension in works of art rarely help us in our understanding. It is difficult for us to grasp how it relates or connects with our lives. Perhaps this is because we are used to thinking about things in terms of what we get out of them. We understand Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday because of what they offer us in terms of the forgiveness of sins and new life. Pentecost offers amazing hope because we receive the very breath of God and the power of the Spirit calling us back into life with God. In contrast, what does the Ascension offer us? It can seem that Jesus must leave so that the Spirit is able to come.
In fact, the Ascension is not about Jesus leaving us, but about the new way that he can now be present to us. Physically he could only be present to the people immediately around him; but now he is available to all people throughout all time. So, the Ascension is not about having less of Jesus, but about having more of him.
And the longing that we have will be fulfilled only through the gift of the Spirit who will come in power upon the young church at Pentecost. Come Holy Spirit!
Loving God, thank you for the gift of motherhood.
We ask your blessing to be upon all those who are called “Mum”
and for those who still wait to be a Mum.
Thank you for the numerous spiritual children
you have given to so many “spiritual mums” and mentors.
Fill this day with favour and grace as we honour all mothers.
We ask for comfort for those who are grieving loss and heartache, especially the loss of a child on this day.
We ask for strength for those who wait for children to come back home.
We pray in gratitude for all our mothers who have died
and wait for the new heavens and new earth.
We ask for healing for those who have been hurt by relationships that were intended to be loving and nurturing.
We ask for faith for those who will someday be Mums,
who find themselves on a journey that seems so hard.
We ask for great encouragement and grace to cover those who have made a brave and loving choice for adoption.
We ask for incredible provision and care over every single parent mum who works so hard on behalf of her children.
We pray for those women who, though they do not have physical children, have the gift of being amazing hope-bringers to many spiritual children they’ve been blessed to nurture through these years.
Loving God, we thank you, for the gift of life.
Today we pray for refreshing, for joy, for grace, for wisdom,
for great peace… for all mothers, for mums to be,
and for women who nurture and lead.
In the precious name of Jesus our Lord: Amen.