Welcome to Ascension Sunday, the day in the church’s calendar in which we remember that Christ has ascended on high, salvation is complete, victory has been won. We don’t make much of the ascension here in Australia but in some countries it is even a public holiday. Celebrating the Ascension and the next sermon in Ecclesiastes will be our theme today.
In Ecclesiastes 5 we read that we are to Guard our steps as we go near to the house of God. God, we learn, is in heaven and we are on earth. God is depicted as a great king. The access to His presence is understandably restricted, qualified and not easily given. We are therefore to be careful with our words, limited in our vows and watchful over our mouths. All of these are good things. The only problem is that they don’t get us access to God. It is only Jesus who gives us access to God.
When I first got interested in church, I went to confirmation classes. Somehow I got the notion that in order to take communion I needed to be sinless. I confessed my sins (using the prayer of confession) and then I needed to stay sinless until I received the Lord’s Supper. A tall task when you are young (even taller when you are older). I remember working hard at not thinking, trying to stay humble, working at not being distracted. But the fact is, it is not my sinlessness that allows me to come near to God, it is Christ’s sinlessness. Its not anything I have done: not my faith, not my innocence, not my confession, not anything of me. It is all of Him. Indeed the Prayer Book states that receiving communion is not even dependent on confession. What it is dependent on, is Christ. This is what makes the prayer of humble access, the most important prayer. I come to God with all my sin but with no pride, and in Jesus I find forgiveness and a reason to boast.
I sometimes wonder why people don’t take communion. Of course there are all sorts of reasons but it should never be that they consider themselves too sinful. No one is too sinful to come to Christ. No one is that far away that they can’t come near in Jesus. The only thing that should and would stop us is pride, that we are proud that we are going against God’s express will. The great truth is that Christ has ascended. He is seated at the Father’s right hand. Today let us celebrate all that Christ has done for us and humbly admit that we need his help.
God bless, Stuart
P.S. On a much lighter note Jo and I will be away next Sunday. We are off to see Britt and James. It is time for their 6 monthly check up (I sound like the dentist). Please pray that the time will be an encouragement to them and to us, as we see what God is doing in Narromine and country NSW.