Sunday after Ascension / Easter 7, June 2, 2019
The role of a coach in passing on a new skill to learners is sometimes described like this: first I’ll do it and you watch, next you do it copying me, then you do it and I’ll watch. This circle of learning is completed when, after years of practice, the coach leaves and the former learners become confident players, independently skilful and go on to coach others. We can see this kind of process with the life of Jesus. Thursday 30 May was Ascension Day and this Sunday we focus on what the Ascension means to us as Christians. For the first disciples they had lost their ‘coach’. If we read carefully Jesus earnest prayers for his disciples in John 17 we realise he judged them to be ready to ‘play’ independently. The Ascension tells us that Jesus knew his first disciples would be ready. So he made it clear to them that his physical reality was from then on going to be absent because they would henceforth recognise his presence in their life as a community of faith, in the sacrament of communion which he had left them, in the memorable words and actions of his life, and in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. That the church is still alive today we know his judgement was correct. Though physically absent, the power and love of Christ remains present amongst his faithful followers. This is what practicing the presence of God is all about.