Thursday, 2 June 2011

Ascension Day


Here's a wee thought for Ascension Day:

"Some part of us is always in the process of healing... the condition of health is not a static state of perfect wellness; it is... a condition of ongoing healing. For example, a possible explanation for the cause of cancer is referred to as the "scanner theory. " This theory holds that various cells in the healthy body routinely become cancerous: but the body remains healthy because within it there is some... mechanism that scans the body for such malignant cells... and proceeds to kill them before they multiply into a growing tumor. What causes cancer then, according to the tbeory, is not a cancerous cell but rather the failure of the "scanner" to detect it... The theory is offered not because it is proven, but because it demonstrates the way in which physicians are increasingly coming to think about disease: that most disease may best be defined as a failure of the healing process."
M. Scott Peck, M.D.

At one level, the Ascension is the ultimate healing.  It heals the great division between the human race and the Divine will, symbolically recounted in the Fall narrative in the book of Genesis.  Yet it has never been a total or complete healing.  Even within the Church the wisdom has always been  "reformandus semper reformandum" - "Reformed and always in need of reform".  Again and again, the Body of Christ, the People of God  have needed healing.  The same is as true today as ever it was.  It needs healing for its attitudes to LGBT people/women/the mentally ill/the poor/non-Caucasian ethnic groups if you take the Liberal line.  It needs healing for its divergence from Scripture on morals and ethics if you take the Conservative approach.  'Twas ever thus!  and in all likelihood will be until the Parousia.  Living with the continued brokenness and dysfunctional nature of the Institutional Church is a pain and sometimes we find we can't put up with it anymore.

A modern collect for Ascension Day helps me to "Keep Buggering On" as Churchill put it:

"O God,
you withdraw from our sight
that you may be known by our love.
Help us to enter the cloud where you are hidden
and surrender all our certainty to the darkness of faith in Jesus Christ.  Amen"
(Janet Morely, as cited in Daily Office SSF)

The concept of faith in Jesus being dark is disturbing - but sometimes living faith is disturbing.  It takes us to encounter our own (and others) darkness.  And through it to healing.  The Apostles went from being Mates of the Messiah to being Friends of the Late, Dead Jesus before experiencing the healing of the Resurrection.  And then they went on to be the Gob Smacked of Galilee today and then the Babbling Linguists of Jerusalem and finally the Confused Council who hacked out a Compromise at Jerusalem. As it still sort of is.  The fact is the Church and Christians are never in "a static state of perfect wellness" - they are always in "a condition of ongoing healing".  That is our vocation.


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