Reflection for Sunday after Ascension


Reflection for Sunday after Ascension

The 2019 book ‘The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse’ by Charles Mackesy has proved to be beneficial to many during lockdown. It presents simple sketches with encouraging statements about how to be ourselves, and how to become more fully ourselves in relationship with others.

Mole’s answer to most challenges is to eat cake. But, on one page he muses, ‘I wonder if there’s a school of unlearning?’

Now there’s a thought for us at the moment! Where in the school of Covid19 might be places where we can or need to unlearn? 

Unlearning, I suppose, is about trying to step outside our usual thoughts and actions and reflect on whether we might be being encouraged to think and do differently – while we eat cake like Mole.

All sorts of things have raised their heads recently and asked us whether we want to unlearn. How should we travel? Why don’t we always value frontline workers the way we do now? How can worship at home be part of what we do and not a last resort?

The Sunday after Ascension might be called Unlearning Sunday. Whatever appearances Jesus made to his followers after his resurrection have now come to an end. Jesus has ascended and cannot be apprehended by his followers as they had always known him. What happens now?

They retreat to the upper room to unlearn how they need to be Christ’s disciples. It’s going to be different and they need to step back before they can go forward. How can they make Jesus’ teaching work without him as they knew him? And, they need to support each other and be clear about what the message is.

It’s in the unlearning of the days between Ascension and Pentecost that the men and women who had followed Jesus prepare to follow him again in a new way. It’s a way that is confident, courageous and done as a team, sharing skills and insights.

And in taking this unlearning seriously, they become open to the outpouring of the Spirit of Christ, the gift of God who is always faithful and always renewing.

Come Holy Spirit, as we unlearn in our restriction, ready to encounter and serve our churches and communities afresh when the time comes.

Canon Richard Mitchell

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