Support the Café

Search our Site

Speaking to the Soul: Ascension

Speaking to the Soul: Ascension

The Ascension of Our Lord

by Laurie Gudim


Matthew 28:16-20

When my church discerned that it was time to let go of our Rite I Eucharist, I grieved.  It wasn’t that I want to use that language and gesture in services any more.  Though I fondly remember and cherish it as my entry into the Episcopal way of worshiping God, it no longer reflects how I want to pray.

No, I mourned because this transition marked the beginning of a shift in how we do church in my community.  The comfortable and closed little congregation, diminishing in size and energy, that had up until now gathered at 7:30 am every Sunday for “Rite I, no music” had been broken open.  The prayers they had repeated their entire lives were gone.  They had lost something they cherished profoundly.  And because I cherish them, I sorrowed.

At Jesus’ Ascension, the disciples had to make the shift from being the chosen people that followed the beloved Master to becoming apostles with their own authority, going out into the world to proclaim the Good News.  Changing hearts, then baptizing and ordering a new community, replaced witnessing miracles and pondering teachings.  They had to let go of everything they cherished and become something brand new.  And the demand for their transformation didn’t stop that day.  Kicked out of their synagogues, they would lose their religious identity.  They would make bonds of love and common commitment with unclean foreigners.  They would journey to strange lands – and suffer and die there.

Our most deeply held convictions, the very heart of the way we understand God, can become an obstacle to God’s work through us.  Our most holy practices can become false idols.  The Way of Christ is a trail that veers in unexpected directions and even shifts right under our feet as we try both to nourish and support one another and to find languages that speak to the hearts of those who yearn to see Jesus.  For, bottom line, we are called to be vessels through which God reaches for those God wishes to befriend.

What, then, sustains us and keeps us following our Lord?  In my experience it is Christ himself.  Dwelling in our hearts, whispering to us in our silences, nourishing and loving us in all our broken places, the Messiah holds us close, supports us and sends us forth.

We stand on the holy mountain with Jesus’ disciples when the edifices upon which we have built our faith no longer carry the abundant, wild, luscious welcome of God.  That which we have known and upon which we have relied shifts away from us forever.  It is all right to grieve this loss deeply, and we do.  But Jesus commands us to go on from this place.  We must go on to find new forms and venues, to do the necessary work of making Christ known to the world.

And, take heart.  Christ’s final promise caresses us, transforming the empty, leaden air.  ”I am with you always,” he says, “to the end of the age.”



Laurie Gudim is a writer and religious iconographer who lives in Fort Collins, CO.  You can view some of her work at Everyday Mysteries.



Image: From Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham – The Ascension 


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café