A Prayer for Ascension Day


About a month ago I wrote about Theodore Parker Ferris and his collect found on page 461 of the Book of Common Prayer. The prayer seemed perfect for the weird world we found ourselves in while as we were sequestered to our homes. That collect and learning more about Ferris’ life led me to search out a collection of prayers written by him. [1] This short book includes prayers for liturgical seasons and various topics.

Here is one of the prayers listed for the Ascension of Jesus:

O God who has given us so many good and wonderful things that sometimes seem to be snatched so cruelly away from us, help us to learn as we think of the Ascension of Jesus that while the good things of life seem to be taken away, nevertheless, in their going sometimes we find our good; and that above and beyond the coming and going of life there is a realm in which all good things continually are. For these things we are thankful, O God. Amen. (p. 18)

The Ascension of Jesus is a confusing event. Luke-Acts even gives us two versions that differ in timing and in location. But maybe that makes sense. The Ascension was probably at least as confusing as the crucifixion and resurrection. Talk about a roller coaster for the disciples. First, they think all is lost– then Jesus is back– but then he just leaves. But the Ascension seems to be a necessary step. Through Jesus’ Ascension the way is opened for the coming of the Holy Spirit, which leads to the Good News pouring out from Jerusalem.

The thing that I appreciate about Ferris’ prayer is that it makes space for all the confusing feelings– that when someone or something is taken away it feels cruel, and that it takes time and certainly grace to find “our good” in a time of loss.

In the season of COVID-19, so much has been snatched away. Celebrations, graduations, long-planned trips. People we love have been taken. For many the security of jobs, housing, health have been snatched away. For others, trust in our systems of leadership is gone.

For the disciples losing Jesus again meant waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit and through the spirit the power to preach the Good News. For us in this time of loss and waiting, how can we find our good in this moment?

[1] Ferris, Theodore Parker, Prayers, The Seabury Press, 1918.

Published by akhudlow

I am a priest in the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Alabama. I am a church nerd, printmaker, storyteller, and blogger.

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