On April 12, 1961 Soviet spaceman Yuri Gagarin was the first man to enter outer space and orbit earth. It was claimed he said; “I don’t see God up here.” Later it was claimed Russian leader Khrushchev had said “Gagarin flew into space, but didn’t see God up there.”
Whichever it was, both misunderstand. Too often we speak and even live as if God and heaven is “up
there” and “out there” not within and among us, which is what Christ came to
show. If Gagarin had flown higher would he have seen God? No. John 1;18 says
say no-one has ever seen God.
So, a literal reading of the ascension might leave us looking up as they did in Acts 1;10,
which says “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky?” I don’t think anyone is
waiting for an answer. The question suggests there is somewhere else to look,
God in all things.
If we think of heaven as a place, we do not have to be responsible for our own greatness. We
are left with a gap between us and God, spirit and matter, heaven and
earth. Rather than looking up, ascension tells us to find Christ everywhere within by being present.
In the 2018 film Christopher Robin Winnie the Pooh and Christopher
Robin stand on a bridge chatting. Christopher Robin asks Pooh what he loves
doing best. “Going to see you,” he replies. Christopher agrees but then says,
“What I like doing best is nothing.” “Doing nothing often leads to the very
best of something,” Pooh responds. They walk on to sit under a tree.
Christopher Robin is growing up, and it’s soon time for him to go off to
school. “I’m not going to do nothing anymore,” he tells Pooh. “Never?” Pooh
asks. “Well, they don’t let you at the boarding school.” This sets up the story of a grown-up who has forgotten how to
just be free. Christopher is focused on his work at a suitcase manufacturer,
anxiously drilling a philosophy of achievement into his daughter as his boss does
to him, reminding him “nothing comes from nothing,” the opposite of Pooh’s first
statement on the bridge.
But if Christ, the mind and spirit who filled Jesus,
has ascended to fill the whole creation, the greatest presence comes from
nothing. Genesis portrays the uncreated God as creating
the cosmos out of nothing. We are born in God too, the uncaused is an
aspect of our being. Genesis says God created humankind in his image, so we are
one with God. When we want what God wants, to manifest a communion of Love
everywhere, we become like God too, so our work is to accept ourselves as
images of God not separations from God. So Jesus has not left us, he left us his mind.
Let this mind be in you,
which was in Christ Jesus says Philippians 2:5. Christ is all in all, says Colossians 3:11! The ascension is not our removal from
earth but our liberation from time & space. But we live in a world in which up is portrayed as better up than
down. Singers want to be at the top of the charts, athletes want to be on top
of their game, students want to be at the top of the class. We would have an up
day, not a down day. So something within us knows that we are more than
Getting high not feeling low is not a comparison, a competition,
or a judgment, it is not comparing our lives with other peoples, thinking that
for us to ascend the other has to descend, but knowing, “the
fullness who fills all in all.” Christ’s
fulness is realised not by reaching up and grasping but by noticing what pulls
us down and releasing it.
That might be fear, desire, anger, sadness, resentment,
a need to be right, jealous, proud, a perfectionist, an addict. 1 John 4
says whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not,
does not. If this is so, there is nowhere to go, nothing to do but respond
to the greatness we are in Christ.
There is a story about a bird and a man who use a tree to escape
a flood. The bird stands for the
creature in Christ, the man for someone relying only on his body mind and
intellect, and the tree stands for the world, and the flood, for the heavy feelings
that drown us, so we need to get above them. The bird and the man sit on the
branch above them, above the flood, but the bird, the creature in Christ, knows
that if it snaps, he will fly, while the man relying only on his own body mind
and intellect knows, if it snaps, he will drown. They are both fully in this
world, only the spiritual one knows he can rise above its weight.
So, as you begin to look at your life and honestly identify the places
of gravity that prevent your experience of rising to heaven while on earth,
know that the very things that hold you down point the way to your ascension. Our
participation begins by seeing what it is we need to let go
of to be able to be free, and no longer to be bound by our little body, mind
and intellect. We are in it, not of it, we are risen and ascended, because the
uncreated is inside us all.