At the weekend I had the joy of being with family and friends on a Sunday afternoon walk. We are blessed at St Paul’s to have been joined this term by a “new recruit” in the form of our school dog, Amber. She took the decision that this walk was a great opportunity to have a cooling swim in the river with “her cousin” Lottie! All sounds fairly healthy… the one challenge was how she might get out of the river which led me clambering down the bank to retrieve her and some unexpected consequences!!
I ended up knee deep in mud and water as evidenced by this picture taken by my loving brother! What has all this got to do with the theme for this week? It prompted me to think of the two areas which we have as our focus… the Ascension and Pentecost.
In essence on the walk I was trying to “do the right thing” and save our floundering (if slightly adorable school dog) but got stuck, bogged down and “deeper than I ever expected”. At times we end up in the same situation in life and we have to look for the ability of being uplifted in some way. In the feast of Ascension Jesus is “lifted up” and takes his place beside God in Heaven. Jesus had been resurrected and inspired the faith we follow today as Christians but from this point it was over to us to live it out in a meaningful way.
The image of being focussed on looking up and forward is significant for us. We need to take ownership for our actions and not wait for God to sort things out. I believe in our lives faith presents opportunities and our challenge is to spot this and respond to it.
Next weekend, when we are on half-term, we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost where the disciples were filled with the “fire” of the Holy Spirit. What’s this all about? On one level when Jesus was leading his disciples it must have been exciting, engaging and inspiring. Ultimately probably easier to believe… the challenge, as in all leadership, is what would happen when He had gone? The disciples were sitting together considering this very question and hesitating to take a leap of faith and go into the world. The symbols of wind and fire represent how the Holy Spirit moved and inspired them to spread the Good News and have the conviction and faith to live out their calling.
A few questions we could consider include;
- How can we make sure we don’t get “bogged down” and stuck in life, even when we have the right motivations?
- How can we look to be uplifting to others as well as looking for God when we need this inspiration?
- What are the challenges that make us hesitant to do the right thing or live out our faith?
- How can we be moved by God’s plan for us and inspired by the Holy Spirit to do so much more than we can ever imagine?
If we can be uplifted and inspired in this way perhaps we will become the ultimate “independent learners” and live up to Jesus’s challenge for us… it’s over to you!