As a child I had a curious habit when the dinner plate was set down in front of me of eating things one by one, starting from the green vegetables (which I liked least) through to the potatoes which I liked not a lot better, and then onto the meat, which I wasn’t overly keen on, but was the final thing anyway, so I couldn’t do much about it. The same might happen with the pudding: custard first, the topping of the cake next and then the main part of the cake. When it came to the biscuit and tea afterwards , the biscuit was ate first and then the tea followed. I am not sure why I did this, but I know it annoyed everyone round the table, they still allude to it today, and the fact they didn’t like it probably made me do it more.
Something similar I suspect happens to us when the feast of Easter and Ascension and Pentecost comes around, we tend to devour them one by one when in actual fact they should be consumed, taken or received all together. Although separate, distinct and unique they are part of the one event. Infact they can’t be separated, they may be celebrated as feasts separately, but they can’t be divided from one another, they can’t be seen in isolation, they are not cut off from each other.
They can’t be separated because are all parts of the same experience, they are on the one plate. They are parts of the same experience: the experience of the risen Christ to his friends. The experience of Christ who is alive. Of Christ who returns to the place where he should be. Of Christ whose mission is complete with the sending of the sprit. These experiences were tightly sown together, They were the experiences of Christ who was alive. Although different aspects they were pieces stuck together, things that couldn’t be separated otherwise things would not make sense.
And even more so than being this experience of seeing him they become the engine of change for a new world, a new creation, a new heart and mind within us. He has risen, he has ascended, he has sent the spirit. Nothing could be the same again.
Put together, they tell us that the experience is not of ending, of something cut short, terminated. The experience is not of something that is finished but of something that continues is alive. Something that propels us into the future. Something like a Big Bang experience, that is the moment when things are created anew. Something that opens horizons where we don’t know where it is going to take us. Something that is like an engine within creation that drives it on, gives it a new direction. Christ is alive, he is risen, he has ascended, he has sent the spirit, behold I am making all things new.
With the resurrection and the ascension and the Pentecost we are on a new road, instead of careering towards a disaster in which everything is lost God brings it back. This is a redeemed world, not a world that is lost.
That is why dragging if heals doesn’t have any place. That is why doing things out of duty has no place. That is why lack of enthusiasm has no place. That is why lifeless Christianity has no place. That is why dong things out of habit has no place. We are part of an explosion in creation , we are like that atoms thrown out by the Big Bang. We are part of a movement that projects us forwards, that propels us into the future, that carry is along.
In the light f the experience of Easter Ascension and Pentecost we are new creatures. We are redeemed in a world that is transformed by the grace of Christ. That is loved by God in a definitive way, he has put his cards on the table, he is for us in his son. Everything is united to him through his son, who has returned to him and sits at his side, his rightful place.