A Homily – The Sunday after the Ascension

This week the Archbishop of Canterbury along with Prince William courageously emphasised the importance of remembering the problems of mental health. We know that 1 in 5 people will be affected by mental issues at some time during their lives, but up until recently it was never spoken about.

There is no doubt that during the coming months and probably years, the sadness of the loss of loved ones from the virus will affect every area of the society. Also you add to this those who have come through, but not totally recovered mentally or physically after 40 days in a ventilator and the many thousands who have lost jobs, may be homes and in many cases marriages – society has a vast task. The Church is going to have a major task in the months to come when we ‘get back to normal’, if we ever do. Personally, if I had lost a member of my family, my job and my home, I wonder whether I would be mentally capable of taking this all in.
Last Thursday was Ascension Day as we remembered the 40 days after the Resurrection.  40 is an important number in Jewish history because it was 40 years that the Hebrew wandered around the desert before being ready to come into the promised last, Elijah was 40 days in Mount Horeb and Jesus was 40 days in the wilderness being tested by the devil. On Ascension Day Jesus is on a hill called Olivet, (you can still visit this mountain today as thousands of pilgrims do each year) and after giving his disciples instructions he leaves and then they are told by God’s messengers to await Jesus’ return.
The Day of the Accession may not be those busy days in the life of the church but it ends the physical life of Jesus with his disciples and now they are on their own to cope as best as they can.
These weeks for many of us in semi-isolation have not all be easy. I am aware, as the Archbishop and Prince William know, that ‘the cloud can come down’. Thankfully the weather has enabled us to get out of the house but even so the main high points in the week, especially the Sunday Service, have not been there.

Along with many I have felt strange. Sundays, in our home, consisted of devouring the Sunday Times, then the only cooked breakfast of the week because we probably won’t get lunch, a quick a look at my sermon making final adjustments, a 14 mile dash in the car to church (this week it would be Caston) to be greeted by so many friendly faces, the choir practising for the service, and coffee and delicious cakes being arranged at the back of the church. Welcoming people and having lots of laughter and noise. Along with so any people I actually miss it! But we will back soon, I hope.
The disciples went back and were on their own and they prayed along with their families and my hope is that, when this virus is over, we will be able to come together share our thoughts and may be anxieties and realise that whatever has happened in the past we still have a wonderful family church which actually cares for one another. In the meantime you are all doing a wonderful job and there so much good going on that I am sure we will all get through. Thank you Rachel Butterworth, housekeeper from Breckles Hall, for the lovely gift of cakes etc. to all those who are on their own. Someone said it looked like a parcel from Fortnum and Masons!
But seriously, I think that what the Archbishop and Prince William have taught us is that we must be honest with one another. If we are feeling low, or ‘the cloud has come down’, then tell people. They are probably going through the same feeling – but we are British – I think that less of the ‘stiff upper lip’ would be better at this time for all of us. My wife always say to me, ‘Adrian, when you are feeling low, tell me’…………….. as husbands all know, our wives are always right!!
God bless you
Adrian

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