Today is Ascension Day, one of my favorites in the church calendar and one the Universalists historically paid especial attention to.
It isn’t about Christ leaving (read: abandoning) us any more than self-satisfied jokers suggest that he was launched like a deep-space probe. Rather, it reflects a spiritual truth. As the bridge between God and humanity, Christ prepares the path for human beings to become more Godlike. More compassionate, creative and free, among other things. And neither is this sanctification the province of a precious and rare set. (I wonder if members of Holiness churches, with their belief in a instant and particular sanctification realize how false and self-righteous they sound. Bad for the Church’s mission and discouraging to the “unsanctified.” My word to them: stop talking about sanctification and start showing it.)
The sacred path is often depicted — in cards, magazine and other visual media — as a lonely stroll around a pond or along a beach, which in a more subtle way is just as selfish and particular as the Holiness member’s forceful self-affirmation. Consider today, instead, that the sacred path might be more thickly peopled than a marathon, and that its end might nothing less than the completion of God’s purposes on earth.