From The Rector…
Thursday night the bishop will confirm, receive, or reaffirm 31 Christians at the Church of the Ascension as we celebrate our festal namesake—Ascension Day. To be confirmed or received is a formal way of joining the church as an Episcopalian. It is a mature affirmation of one’s Christian belief, especially as many of us were baptized in infancy. It gives us certain rights and privileges as members of The Episcopal Church of the Ascension such as voting for and running for church positions like the Vestry, representing the church at Diocesan Convention or serving on other councils or conventions of the diocesan and national church.
Confirmation is a sacrament. The outward and visible sign is the same as in ordination—the laying on of hands, a reflection of the priesthood of all believers. The inward and spiritual grace conferred in the sacrament is the strength of the Holy Spirit to guide and sustain one through all the challenges and joys of one’s life. According to the catechism (BCP p. 860), the only requirements to be confirmed are baptism, sufficient instruction in the Christian faith, being penitent of sin, and are ready to affirm their confession of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
Too often we get distracted into believing that the building is the church and forget that the church is actually the body of Christ. On Thursday we strengthen that body through the 31 people who make a mature commitment and renewal of their faith. They will become part of us, and we will become part of them as we live into the mission of the church and partner with God and one another to do God’s reconciling work in the world. Those who join with us in this journey bring their own particular skills and gifts which compliment us as a whole. They are part of the growth and flourishing of CoA and demonstrate the new thing God is doing here as he continues to build his kingdom.
Thursday night stands as a beacon of the continued hope and salvation that God is always offering us. We have the joy of celebrating those who join Christ’s church and God gets the victory! The world would tell us the church is irrelevant, even dying. Yet, the first Sunday after the pandemic began and the world shut down, the church broke the internet. Facebook nor YouTube could keep up with the amount of live-streaming that happened that Sunday morning or the next one or even the one after that. It took them a month to increase enough capacity to maintain the livestream on Sundays but it was still with plenty of kinks as the buffering continued to be a problem. That doesn’t sound like a dying set of superstitions—that sounds like a church that is alive and vital and sought after by a world in need of the comfort and hope God offers us.
Ascension is that beacon of hope. Our light shines in the darkness—metaphorically and literally. Each of us is a light bearer offering that hope to the world. That is our response and responsibility as Christians. As the body of Christ at CoA we shine that light of hope to everyone we meet through our encouraging and hopeful words and actions. Even our very building shines the light of hope with a tower that is lit through the night casting its light and our inspiration toward the heavens.
We look toward the heavens just as the apostles did some two thousand years ago as Jesus ascended. We too, are reminded that this Jesus, who has been taken up into the heavens, will come in the same way as we saw him go into heaven. We are not idle as we await his return, instead we continue to baptize, to confirm, to receive, to reaffirm as a sacramental act with the bishop and in our own hearts every day. We are making disciples of all the nations, baptizing and confirming, and teaching just as Jesus commanded us too.
I hope you might be a part of that great celebration of our life in Christ this Thursday, Ascension Day, at 5:30pm. Bishop G will be with us. Immediately following the service we will feast together with live music by the Lo-Fi Loungers, a taco food truck, bouncy houses and fun for the kids. Bring a lawn chair and your favorite beverages. No worries about the weather—if it rains, we will move the party inside to Ascension Hall. See you Thursday night as we witness to the world that the church is far from dying!
Light and Life,