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Innocent Reflections (13/2021) Ascension Day

Dear Friends.

I wonder how you are with saying goodbye. Coming back to this country from Italy, one of the things that shocked me was how little we say goodbye. In Italy leavetaking at the end of an evening lasts a good 20 minutes as everybody has to shake everybody else's hand, or even kiss; whereas here I've often known people slip away without saying anything at all. In a purely social setting, for some a goodbye is an important affirmation of the friendship, whereas for others it's an awkward moment to be avoided if at all possible.

While in life goodbyes often mark the end of an occasion, a period or even an era, they rarely feel final, there is always some chance you will see the person again. But they are final in the sense that whatever went before the goodbye can never be retrieved, that exact combination of people, place and mood will never come again. I've often felt deep sadness saying goodbye at the end of a holiday even when I know full well I'll see the people again because the particularity of that time has gone forever.

There is also a certain joy in goodbyes, in leaving a place behind you and moving on to the next thing. Especially when you are young, it is sad but exciting to leave home for the first time and go out into the big wide world. 

But occasionally you know that a goodbye will be for the very last time. I'll always remember watching one Great Aunt and Uncle saying farewell to another Great Aunt and Uncle on what was supposed to be their last ever visit to England from their adopted home of Australia. There was something impressive and moving about the affection and the finality of the embrace. 

Being a priest, I often have the privilege of saying a final goodbye. However sad it may be, there is always something beautiful about commending a Christian to God. On this ascension day I'm reminded of saying goodbye to Gilbert, when we sang together that great Easter Hymn - Alleluia Sing To Jesus, a hymn we'll sing at mass tonight. I managed two verses from memory (no doubt Gilbert could have sung the whole thing) - the second of which is so appropriate for today:

Alleluia! Not as orphans
Are we left in sorrow now;
Alleluia! He is near us;
Faith believes, nor questions how.
Though the cloud from sight received Him
When the forty days were o'er,
Shall our hearts forget His promise:
"I am with you evermore?"

The words are about Jesus, who both left the disciples today as he went up to heaven, and at the same time stayed with them, and us, forever, for in a very real sense today we follow Jesus up to heaven. In the Gospel narrative there is no time for a hug or a kiss, Jesus is taken up from his friends into the clouds. And though we don't always have the time or occasion to say goodbye, we know that we will spend eternity together, one with another in love, for that is the promise of the ascension - that where Jesus goes, so we go too.
With love and prayers,

Fr Ben


This Week:

You can also watch all our services live on our website or our facebook page. 

Thursday Ascension Day
4.30pm Prayer Stations (praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit) at Holy Innocents with Matilda and Graham

7.30 Ascension Day Mass
Friday St Matthias
10.00am Mass (Holy Trinity)


10.00am Mass
Easter 7
10.00am Parish Mass
6.00pm May Devotion to Our Lady
Monday              10.00am  Mass
10.00am Mass
10.00am Mass 
7.30pm Mass
Dates for your diary
  • May Devotion, Sunday 16th May at 6:00pm
Join us on Sunday for our annual May Devotion to Mary, with prayers at the shrine
  • Pentecost Vigil, Saturday 22nd May, 6:00pm, followed by an outdoor celebration for Brenda’s birthday!
Our APCM will be taking place after church on Pentecost Sunday, the 23rd. Anyone wishing to be nominated as a Church Warden, Deanery Synod Representative or PCC Member should email or phone Brenda for a Nomination Form, or speak to Matilda after mass today. Your form will need to be signed by a proposer and a seconder before being returned.

Thy Kingdom Come

We have sent out prayer booklets, with a prayer each day for the period between Ascension and Pentecost where we pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit. You can find an electronic copy here
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