The next step in the story of salvation is facing up to the fact that, at some point, Jesus stopped walking alongside the disciples and handed the mission of proclaiming the Good News on to them. He promised that He would be with them - and with us - always - right up to the end of the age - but that the mission was theirs now.

The Ascension is, literally, clouded in Mystery.
Clouds coming down from the heavens onto the mountains were seen as the presence of the Divine. (Remember in "Down from Heaven" - heaven was seen as being in the sky - well, if clouds come down from the sky to cover mountains - what - or Who do they bring with them.....?)

In the story of the Transfiguration, Peter, James and John were given a glimpse of the glory to come - and then the scene had been covered by cloud - but on this occasion, He had emerged from it - to come back down the mountain with them.. In the Ascension, Jesus entered the Divine - but this time, did not re-emerge and come back down the mountain with them.

This is understood to mean that He had returned to His place as the only-begotten Son - at the right hand of the Father. But there were all the other promises that He had made - to return - and to return to judge humanity and establish a new Kingdom on earth - a Kingdom that would have no end...

Again, our understanding falters. Where is Jesus in the meantime? And what does coming in clouds of glory mean when we now know them to be bundles of water vapour floating in an atmosphere made up of various gases?

The answer is unsatisfactory - if we want an exact explanation of it - for we do not know! This, of course, has given some people great opportunities for flights of fancy - or worse, teachings filled with fear and horror.

One clue might be in looking back to the Nativity as the fulfilment of the prophecies of the coming of the Messiah. There were many interpretations of those prophecies - but it was only when it had happened and people had had time to reflect on Jesus’ death and resurrection that His birth made any sense. It simply was not what people expected.

Jesus, Himself, said that the End would not be as people expect - or at a time when anyone predicted it would be! This leaves us free to lay aside the scare-mongering and false prophets - but what, in the face of this Mystery can we retain?

As we gaze into the Cloud of Unknowing - what can we see? We cannot, of course, see anything - for human eyes cannot penetrate the Mystery... but our souls can detect something beyond the Cloud. Something in us - the Divine Indwelling - can reach out and almost touch what lies beyond the Cloud.... Not quite - but, hopefully enough to make us content to continue to gaze into it - and to be content to live in the Mystery - until we have grown-up enough to enter it ourselves....

Drinking from the Wellspring

No-one has seen God - but when have you had experiences of being in the presence of something much greater than yourself?
How easy is it to define how you felt?
What does this suggest about the problems the disciples had in explaining the Ascension - the Second Coming....?

1999 Wellspring

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