All of you will have heard of Albert Einstein. And what I’m about to remind you of comes directly from his famous theory of special relativity.
Imagine two identical twins. One of them sets off on a space journey and returns after two years of space travel at almost the speed of light. He’ll be exactly two years older. But his twin who stayed behind on earth will have aged thirty years. Weird but true. We think of time as existing in chunks, but that’s only the way we perceive it. A physicist will speak of the space-time continuum. Time slows down if you’re travelling fast. And before you tell me that we can’t travel that fast, let me remind you that the Hadron collider can accelerate sub atomic particles to almost the speed of light. And whilst we’re talking about sub atomic particles, did you know that something as small as an electron can disappear from one place and reappear in another without going through the space which separates the two places? This is a fact, and much of our modern science is built on so called “quantum weirdness”
We live in a really strange universe, and indeed, some scientists have suggested that our universe is just one of an infinite number of parallel universes.
The power behind all of this must be way beyond our ability to understand; and it’s this power which belongs to God.
I make these points because there’s a tendency today to dismiss parts of the Gospel narratives as fanciful fairy tales which carry deeper truth. However, when you set those gospel reports alongside the weird stuff which science now takes as routine, you may well conclude that perhaps they’re not fanciful at all.
But why would God bring Jesus through death and then move him from this world into what is commonly called “heaven”? And where is heaven? Did Jesus take off like a space ship and zoom away until he got there?
There is deeper truth beneath the surface accounts; of course there is, so perhaps I can remind you of what, as Christians, we believe. It makes a lot of sense and helps to challenge a lot of modern liberal thought.
Love is the most powerful force there is. We know this from our own experience. So whatever else God is he’s a God of love. He created us as an expression of his love because love always expands. He created us in His own image in order to reflect His love back to him and onto everything in creation; and we’ve failed. All of us.
But God never gives up. He’s shown us in the resurrection of Jesus that he’s quite capable of creating a new person from the old one. Using the same kind of stuff but which is also different. That’s what all those stories about the resurrection of Jesus are trying to tell us. And this new creation will never die.
Where did Jesus go as a result of the Ascension? Well, the universe which we live in is pretty strange and God’s heaven is linked to it. It’s very close, just beyond our perception, but it’s there all right and the Ascension tells us that God’s dimension of reality is open to human beings. Jesus has taken our humanity there, and although the way in which our humanity will be finally embodied is not for us to know just yet, we can rest content that one day heaven and earth will be joined together. There will be no more death, decay , suffering or tears. We shall all rise from death and our hope is that God’s mercy will let us enjoy the beauty of heaven forever.
And so, a novelty has been introduced into heaven. And that novelty is our human nature. This whole movement places our humanity in the presence of God. It’s a glorification not only of Christ, but of all human nature.
Christianity teaches that human life draws its dignity not from any particular rights which we think are due to us, but from the fact that because of the Ascension of Jesus , being human means being permanently involved in the presence of God.
It has been said that because of the Ascension we can think of the human race as like a person standing in water up to the neck, safely living because the head is above the surface. This is a good thought; Christ the Head, giving life to those who remain below. Christ is now raised above the heavens, but he still experiences on earth, whatever sufferings we, his members feel.
Christ, while in heaven, is also with us . And we, while on earth are also with him.
He is with us in his God head and his power and his love. He didn’t leave heaven when he came down to us from God; and he didn’t leave us when he ascended to heaven again.
“I am with you always”, says the Lord, “Even until the end of the world.” Amen.