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Ascension – Six Impossible Things before Breakfast

May 7, 2016

This coming Sunday is particularly unusual for me – I am not preaching! I have therefore looked back for topical post from the past:

Ascension – Six Impossible Things before Breakfast

“I can’t believe that!” said Alice.

“Can’t you?” the queen said in a pitying tone. “Try again, draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.”

Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said. “One can’t believe impossible things.”

“I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Biblical stories like that of the ascension of Jesus into heaven seem impossible; So incredibly impossible that they are loved by militant atheists like Stephen Fry, Richard Dawkins and co. They sound so ridiculous that they feel absolutely safe in laughing at them, and at the credulous stupidity of anyone who takes them seriously. And sadly, for too long, we have let them get away with it.

But the logic of science that they turn to in place of these silly stories is equally strange, bizarre even. For example, modern physics believes in single tiny photons of light, too small to be seen with the eye, popping in and out of existence continually to make the universe work. Why anything has mass can’t be properly explained without another massive particle and force that weakly interact with matter to give it some weight (the Higgs Boson). Then to explain the way the stars are moving we have to invent the idea of lots of dark matter and dark energy, so much that the ordinary matter and energy of the universe makes up only a small percentage of all there is.

Why, good physicists sometimes believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

Atheism like that takes at least as much blind faith, if not more, than that of most religious people.

So we need to put aside the laughing and the taunts. Forget about all that and let yourself listen to what the Bible writers were trying to say. The accounts of the Ascension go something like this, Jesus was encouraging his followers shortly after his resurrection, he then left them in a way that they found hard to explain, then the physical Jesus was gone. They did not really understand what had happened and so the writers of these accounts, while doing their best, do not give a clear account of what they saw. Those who witnessed the event remember something like Jesus being lifted up, and slowly hidden by mist or cloud, or something like that.

The one thing they are sure about is that Jesus was with them before and that he wasn’t with them after. But more importantly, they were not to dwell too much on the event itself because the strangeness of Jesus’ departure isn’t the important point. Jesus has left them for their own good; he has left for our good. Then there are the two messengers from God (two angels) who tell them to stop looking to where Jesus had gone, and get on with the work he had given them.

It’s like they were in a dream, or a trance, and they need the snapping of fingers to bring them around.

That could be said for us too. We are so often in a daze. The world tells me that my faith is silly, and part of me believes it. I listen to Stephen Fry on QI, and a little bit of me is embarrassed by my belief. A spell is cast, it’s like part of me has been hypnotised by the great entertainer, and I need fingers to snap, I need to come back to my senses.

With my senses intact once again, I realise that it is easy to find fault with things but it is far harder to have a real alternative. I read through the claims of the materialist atheists and the science does not add up. There are so many unknowns and blind assumptions hidden beneath all the bluster.

I realise that its logical, essential even to allow myself the possibility of believing in six impossible things before breakfast; and of all of them to be true.

Impossible things like:

  • the creator of all things loves me and you.
  • you and I will receive power because the Holy Spirit has come; and
  • you and I are Jesus’ witnesses here in Norfolk, and to the ends of the earth.

So lets listen to those angels, always a sensible thing to do, “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Then to paraphrase, “People, why do you stand looking and worrying about impossible things?” 

Jesus, “will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven”: Perhaps it might be a good idea to be ready for when he gets here!

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