The year was 672 AD. The place was the area of Northumbria in northern England, hard on the coast of the North Sea. A baby was born to a noble family. He is known throughout history as: the Venerable Bede (pronounced as “bead”). He happens to be the author of my favorite hymn: “A Hymn of Glory, Let Us Sing.” #212 TLH. It’s all about my favorite church holy day: Ascension.
This year Ascension is on May 21st (40 days after Easter). Unfortunately, unless God directly intervenes we won’t be able to worship that night due to the virus. But, that won’t stop me from thanking God for Ascension and it shouldn’t stop you, either.
You all should have learned the tripartite truths of Ascension in confirmation class. You know the story. 40 days after Easter Christ took the disciples to the backside of the Mt. of Olives. There He gave them the “great commission” to: “Go and make disciples of all nations” by baptizing people and teaching them Divine truths. There He promises to remain with us always according to His presence in Word and Sacraments. Then, right before their eyes He ascended into heaven “until a cloud hid Him from their sight.” Two angels appeared and told the followers that Christ would someday come again to earth in like manner—visibly. And He will because God’s Son, and His angels, do not lie. It was His bodily farewell to earth—for a time…..
The tripartite truth of Ascension is this: He ascended to sit at the right hand of God in glory and exercise power over all creation to benefit His Church. He went to prepare a place for you in glory. And He now hears our prayers from on high and rewords them to perfection before laying them at the feet of His Father. My personal image of Ascension is the joyous party and parade that must have erupted in heaven when He finally came home—triumphant! It must have been a party to end all parties! And He deserved every accolade because He had deservedly won them by offering His life for ours. I especially key in on the fact that Ascension is, therefore, all about Christ. Everything else was about His work of saving us. But now He could savor that work and reap the joy over it all. Being honored for self-sacrifice is O so sweet!
Now, back to Bede. At age 7 this boy was given to local monks at one of the big monasteries in Northumbria. This was often the case for noble families when it came to “lesser” sons who would not inherit their land or titles. There he remained his entire life. Around the age of 14 (686 A.D.) A huge plague ravaged the land around Jarrow, home of the monastery. Everyone died except 2 people, Bede and the Abbot. God had great plans for him. And by grace, Bede fulfilled them!
He went on to become an ordained deacon a few years later. He never sought high office in the church of the time. He was content to be humble and scholarly. He spent the next 25 years writing (among other things) a commentary on St. Luke, The Ecclesiastical History of the English Church, and even was one of the people who dated the time of creation and originated the A.D. designation for calculating time. During that span he additionally authored our hymn: “A Hymn of Glory, Let Us Sing.” He was perhaps (in my mind, definitely) the greatest churchman of his day. And on May 26, 735 A.D. he went to heaven. That date is intriguing as it was Ascension that year and he died singing the words of his great hymn in his room!!! The Roman Church in 1899 gave him an added name: “The Venerable” to mark his Godly achievements, and only one other person has ever attained such high honor in the Western arm of Christianity.
In our hymnbook, “A Hymn of Glory” has 7 verses. Each one contains exacting theology concerning Ascension and its meaning. I especially like enjoy vs. 5-7 where the truths of Ascension are applied to us. It is a timeless hymn. It will never go out of style. What a mind he had! What a faith he possessed! What insights were bestowed upon him by the Holy Spirit! But, if Bede were alive he would tell you: “It’s nothing. Christ and His glory are everything!” So, never forget Ascension. He didn’t. It literally uplifted him, even in death.
Pastor Thomas H. Fox
Note that since we’ve had to conduct church business remotely due to the virus, we have had no formal meetings, nor will we this month. The only thing I wish to update you on is giving. Since regular services were interrupted in mid March, we’ve taken in about $15,000. YTD we’re taken in about $43,000. This means we are slightly behind budget for 2020. All in all, I want to commend the membership on their giving. Make-up offerings are a huge blessing, especially amidst the disruptions. Yes, I’d say that the spirit of Ascension is alive and well at Pinewood! THF
Tori & Tessa’s Corner: We both like to sleep. And then we get bored and like to: 1. Go out on the deck and search for squirrels. 2. Race up and down the hall—Tessa’s job. 3. Beg for a walk.—We always get a treat or a full meal afterwards, so that’s the best!!! With all the rain this past month, our walking has been curbed a little. Ugh. But Mom has done her best and we’re both in fighting trim. And then it’s back to sleeping. We hope you’ve been sleeping a lot, too. It rejuvenates the body and resets the brain for each day. Sleep is the real fuel that keeps us going. God made dogs and people that way. So use this time to relearn good sleeping habits! If we can, you can. Tori & Tessa aka: T&T