A message from Bishop Paul Swarbrick on the feast of The Ascension of the Lord.

We keep holy the day on which our Lord, Jesus Christ, ascended to heaven, to take His place with the Father, and to send the Holy Spirit to His disciples.

Forty days after His resurrection came the moment He had longed for. At one point in His earlier public ministry Jesus is recorded as saying, partly out of frustration with the disciples and partly out of sheer longing, ‘How much longer must I be with you?’ He had been sent to get something done, and He was eager to return home.I think of so many families separated for all sorts of reasons, longing to be back together. The Ascension carries a hope for that to happen. I think of people not satisfied to return to ‘the old normal’. Something radically new and better is longed for rather than the same old business. The Ascension carries a hope for that to happen too. Yes, Jesus had risen from the dead, but this created world could not hold Him. He returned to life with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

‘I go to prepare a place for you.’ He had said. It was not the first time that a place had been prepared for humankind. The Genesis stories show how the Lord had prepared a garden for Adam and Eve, giving them a place within His creation. It is as though this creation is a school or apprenticeship where we learn to care, to love and to be loved. It’s as though we must be prepared for the place that is being prepared for us if there is to be a perfect match.


After the resurrection there is a new normal offered us. It has been achieved by Christ. It must be chosen by each of us and worked for through the way we live out our lives. His Ascension offers us a way to go and a goal to reach. As we ponder what the post-pandemic new normal might mean for us here, let us also reflect on the Ascension of the Lord and what He has awakened in us.

+Paul Swarbrick