The following reflection is by Tom Cahill
A recent survey conducted by researchers at Durham University, England, on peopleís attitude to sermons came up with some surprises: 96.6% of those surveyed said they liked the Sunday sermon, and 60% said it gave them a sense of Godís love. Attitudes differed according to faith groupings. Evangelicals liked sermons most, Catholics wanted ones that educated rather than challenged. Baptists and Catholics favoured use of the Bible in sermons more than Anglicans and Methodists did. And, while Baptists wanted sermons to span an hour and then some, Catholics wanted them short. Ten minutes max.
So, what to say about the Ascension of the Lord that may be educative, and, yes, challenging too, yet brief? Its description in the first and third readings today (Acts 1:1-11 and Luke 24:46-53) takes only seconds to read. To focus the mind, then, let me ask you which you think is weirder: to believe that the Ascension was real, or to believe that the value of a 6ft bronze sculpture by Alberto Giacometti, sold recently in Sothebyís, is really worth the £65 million paid for it.
The fact of the Ascension is of immeasurably more value than any worked on piece of metal could possibly be. It has the power to stir the imagination, to engage the heart and to intrigue the mind with its promise. And, unlike artfully pressed and pounded metal, faith in the Ascension has the power to effect change. Belief in Godís Word ascending can raise even hearts of stone with money to burn to hearts of flesh burning with love for those who suffer.