A celebration of the Ascension is a great opportunity to remember the theological basis for shared ministry: the gift of the Holy Spirit as emphasised in the readings for the day: “See I am sending upon you what my Father promised… power from on high”; “the riches of his glorious heritage among the saints (i.e. the believers)”; “the Church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you”. All of this points to the theological idea that the focus moves from the earthly Jesus to the Body of Christ, but both have the same life-giving function in the world, with gifts for ministry given diversely to all the baptised.
A focus for the service could be celebrating the signs of Ascended Christ visible in the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit at work in the church and beyond. This is probably more useful than trying to figure out some literal picture of the Ascension!
Local Shared Ministry units must be gladdened to know that Bishop Ross in his first letter to the Diocese, made a point of focusing on the importance of LSM:
I will be looking closely at the archdeaconry structure and in particular how that can be used to support ministry in the north and south of the diocese. I have asked the current archdeacons to continue in their roles in the interim while we make those decisions. The team will also ensure that there is a continued focus onresourcing Local Shared Ministry. Ministry education across the diocese will be another important aspect of the team’s work. I believe in the shape of Anglican mission grounded in local faith communities. As your bishop it will be my task to ensure that ministry is resourced to the best of our ability.
On a less happy note, your prayers are sought for Barbara Wesseldine, who is seriously ill in hospital as a result of a reaction to her recently commenced chemotherapy. Barbara will not be returning to work in the immediate future.