Thursday, May 21, 2009

Feast of the ascension

This evening the community held a vespers service with Holy Communion for the Feast of the Ascension to which members of Immanuel Lutheran Church and Reconciler were invited to attend. Since we are in the parsonage of we use Immanuel's chapel for our morning and evening prayer, we share this space with Reconciler . If one wishes one can join us for morning or evening prayer but people joining us for prayer has only occurred a couple of times and requires letting us know since the church is not usually open at 7 in the morning or 7 in the evening. One person showed up who has been to Reconciler and is a friend of Kates and mine as well as a couple other members of Reconciler. Since it was a feast day and members of the two churches were invited to join us in prayer it was different and it was the first time the community had its own Eucharist service.

I am of two minds about the service and that only one person showed up. I feel that in preparing for this service I came to understand the Divine Office better and the possibilities for the community as we enter more fully into it. So, I feel that marking this particular feast day and others is worth doing since it is living more fully into the patterns our Rule sets down for us. Yet, doing so is difficult with any full number. Given many peoples schedules even in the community itself there is rarely more than three of us at any one prayer service. even for us who have joined a community who say daily prayer is important other things (work schedule and other things) can mean that rarely do all of us show up together at prayer. So, that only one person outside the community showed up perhaps isnt' surprising. I wonder if few show is it worthwhile. I feel a little funny that I put so much thought into the service.

Then I think that especially of late as I have lived into being the sole pastor of Reconciler as well as prior of Holy Trinity, I know that keeping Morning and Evening prayer (even if there are days I miss one or the other) have given me the spiritual resources to face the chalenges of the past several months. I want to share this with others, and our friend did show up, so their might be a desire for this, but like the community has found over the years in a busy urban enviroment even when one is intentional about it keeping morning and evening prayer is a difficult thing to do.

Then there is that this is the feast of the Ascencion, and part of me finds this an odd thing to mark. Intelectually and theologically I understand it as significant and important, but although growing up I was in churches that marked Easter and to some degree emphasized that easter was a season of 50 days and then also celebrated Pentecost, the Ascension was never celebrated, not even celebrated on the Sunday before Pentecost. And for some reason as I have been preparing my sermon the issue of a cosmology in which heaven is up, (which it obviously is not literally), has troubled me about the story of the Ascension.

So, as I lead this service tonight, questions, doubts were swirlling about my head, and so even I was perahaps wondering what we were marking this evening. And then only one person shows up and only some of the memebers of the community. Also, it was a departure from what has been our practice, so I wonder if I should have lead us to do this. But as I said above, I am of two minds. I also, found myself seeing through to see that the action of Christ ascension is metaphorical as well as literal, and thus Jesus going up into the sky doesn't necesarily mean some cosmological commitment I do not share, but there is and always has been the symbolic meaning of up and down, and so this is about not only the glorification of Chrsit, but of all humanity in Christ. This is the last affirmation that Jesus of Nazareth was both God and human and that the incarnation is what has is and will transform the world.

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