Present in Spirit

A Weekly Reflection, Sunday, May 28, 2017

By: Andrew Moore

Andrew-Moore-webThis past Thursday was Ascension Day when we celebrate the resurrected Jesus ascending into heaven. When I was little I always pictured Jesus as a rocket, flames bursting from his feet as he shot up into the sky. Like an ancient Buzz Lightyear with one arm pointing to the sky, he would declare “To infinity and beyond,” as slack-jawed disciples looked on in wonder. As fun as that image might be, somehow I don’t think that’s how it happened.

But I also have a hard time picturing it as a serene event. In the book of Acts, Luke says that “as the disciples were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.” Surely Jesus didn’t step onto a cloud and slowly and gracefully float up into heaven. And he didn’t just disappear either, the disciples watched him going. Was there a giant pair of hands that reached down and scooped him up?

I think that I ponder the imagery of the Ascension, the mechanism of it, because I just don’t like the idea of Jesus leaving. I don’t like to think of him going away, of watching his human self floating off. And if I feel that way, how much more painful would it have been for the disciples, his close friends, to watch him go? How must they have yearned for just one more hour, one more day, one more conversation with him.

In the chapel of the Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham there is a statue installed above the altar. A round hole in the ceiling is sculpted to look like clouds, and out of those clouds hang two feet with red marks on the insteps, the wounded feet of Jesus. In this statue, Jesus is permanently enshrined mid-flight. He is no longer fully here but he is not fully gone either.  It’s a powerful symbol. It reminds us that though Jesus may no longer be present in human form, walking alongside us, he is present in spirit, accompanying us at each step of our earthly journey. We don’t have to reach far to find him.

I find that comforting. Jesus ascending into heaven wasn’t a permanent exit. It was a transition to a different kind of relationship with each of us. Whether he shot up, floated off, or got his feet stuck in the clouds, Jesus is still here, still heaping God’s abundant love upon us, still inviting us to follow him.

To Know Something Greater

A Weekly Reflection, Sunday, May 21, 2017

By: Anne Claiborne Rhodes,  an 8th grader who was confirmed at the 11 a.m. service on Sunday, May 21.

Confirmation-Anne-Claiborne-1God is one of the hardest concepts I have ever tried to understand. To know that something greater, beyond comprehension, is responsible for everything you know. If you had asked me nine months ago who God was or if I believed he was real, I would have probably just stood there, unable to begin to comprehend God or his capabilities. I was always scared to confront the fact that I did not understand God. I was scared I would get judged or people simply wouldn’t understand. As soon as I started confirmation class, I knew I was on the right path to find my answer.

At first, the thought of waking up at 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning every week did not please me. As soon as the first class started and the doughnuts rolled in, I was proved wrong. I began to look forward to confirmation class every week. Some weeks it was the best thing that happened during the week. Matt Rawls and I bonded quickly and he taught me new concepts that I never knew were possible to learn. Not only did he teach me about God, but also about myself. It is the best gift I have ever received.

Some of the best and worst times of my life occurred during middle school. One of the most challenging things was that I lost myself. I acted differently than the person I wanted to be, and it took me awhile to find myself again. Losing myself was not ideal. Nevertheless, I think that it was meant to happen because now I am the best version of myself. Connecting with God and being more a part of the church helped me find my beliefs and trust in others. Although I have never been overtly religious, I have always considered myself to be deeply spiritual. Confirmation class showed me the bridge between religion and spirituality.

God to me is the wind that brushes against your hair on a beautiful sunny day. God to me is the snowflake that falls perfectly on the tip of your tongue. God to me is having a true and heartfelt laugh with your family and friends. God to me is someone who wants to make the world a beautiful place. The world is sometimes a mess, and sometimes a tragically beautiful thing, but no matter what, God is there to help you through anything. God is the best friend you can have.