At 7.15am I walked between college and the village church for our Ascension day service. As I walked I was struck by the circle of worship which we follow so closely here at college. Just 40 days ago we walked to church in the dawn of Easter morning, the birds singing the sun about to rise. now I walked with the birds singing brightly and the sun already risen on a glorious day. The service was a joyful Eucharist and after the Paschal candle had been extinguished, during the final hymn we processed out into the brilliant morning sunshine for the blessing. We started our Easter service with the lighting of the paschal candle and a procession into church. So here we had come full circle.
It's particularly poignant at the moment to be thinking about the ascension. The time when jesus left his disciples for a second time, this time commissioning them to go out and make disciples of the world. Next week the final year students leave, prepared to go out, to be ordained and to begin their ministry of spreading the Good news. Those left behind take up their mantle of serving and teaching the first years as they arrive in September. For the leavers it is a time of mixed joy and sadness, joy that they are to begin their next stage of life and ministry, sorrow at the friends they are leaving. For those of us left behind we are sorrtowful at our loss and apprehensive, are we up to the mark able to welcome and teach the new ordinands.
Yesterday we had a days retreat, away from college this time. the theme was very much about the ascension and the disciples left behind relating it to our lives now. I was struck by how many times I have had to leave beloved friends behind to move in the call God has for me. have I become immune to the sadness of parting from friends, more secure in the knowledge that those friendships continue? I don;t know but perhaps next week I'll know!