A selection of images and poems from the Revd. June Boyce-Tillman’s wonderful Ascension Sermon on May 24th 2020.
Ascension – Denise Levertov
Stretching Himself as if again,
through downpress of dust
upward, soul giving way
to thread of white, that reaches
for daylight, to open as green
leaf that it is…
Can Ascension not have been
arduous, almost, as the return
from Sheol, and back through the tomb
Matter reanimate now must relinquish
itself, its human cells, molecules, five senses, linear
vision endured as Man – the sole
all-encompassing gaze resumed now,
Eye of Eternity.
Relinquished, earth’s broken Eden.
Expulsion, liberation, last
self-enjoined task of Incarnation.
He again Fathering Himself.
He again Mothering His birth:
torture and bliss.
Christ ascends (above) in a dark cloud – the mysterious and unknowable.
Jesus enters the sphere of God in a white cloud (below right). The two images show the knowability and unknowability of God.
Ascension – Malcolm Guite
We saw his light break through the cloud of glory
Whilst we were rooted still in time and place
As earth became a part of Heaven’s story
And heaven opened to his human face.
We saw him go and yet we were not parted
He took us with him to the heart of things
The heart that broke for all the broken-hearted
Is whole and Heaven-centred now, and sings,
Sings in the strength that rises out of weakness,
Sings through the clouds that veil him from our sight,
Whilst we our selves become his clouds of witness
And sing the waning darkness into light,
His light in us, and ours in him concealed,
Which all creation waits to see revealed .
Ascension – Christopher Wordsworth 1807-1885, Bishop of Salisbury
See the Conqueror mounts in triumph;
See the King in royal state,
Riding on the clouds, his chariot,
To his heavenly palace gate!
Hark! The choirs of angel voices
Joyful alleluias sing,
And the portals high are lifted
To receive their heavenly King…
Thou hast raised our human nature
On the clouds to God’s right hand:
There we sit in heavenly places,
There with thee in glory stand,
Jesus Reigns, adored by angels;
Man with God is on the throne;
Mighty Lord, in thine ascension,
We by faith behold our own.
Ascension hymn to the tune Orientis partibus
- See the cosmos comes to birth;
Christ returns to heaven from earth,
Bearing our humanity
Deep within the Trinity. Alleluya, Alleluya.
- Now divisions fall away
At the dawning of the day
When the heaven’s gates swing wide
And outsiders flock inside. Alleluya, Alleluya.
- Angels sing celestial psalms;
Saints and prophets wave their palms;
Christ’s procession enters in;
All creation starts to sing Alleluya, Alleluya.
- Christ’s ascension has revealed
How our hurts are being healed,
How our nature forms a part
Of the deeps within God’s heart. Alleluya, Alleluya.
- All our hopes and all our fears,
All our joys and all our tears,
All our visions and despair
Nestle in God’s shelt’ring care. Alleluya, Alleluya.
- Heav’n and earth are interlaced;
God has shown that interface;
How our true integrity
Glows within the Deity. Alleluya, Alleluya.
- Let the feasting now begin;
Clowns and creatures tumble in;
In God’s loving we are free;
Let us claim our liberty! Alleluya, Alleluya.
Copyright June Boyce-Tillman ORIENTIS PARTIBUS