Super Thursday?

The nation is being called to vote today (Thursday 5th May). The Scottish Parliament, the Welsh National Assembly, the Northern Ireland Assembly are all testing popular opinion through the polls. 124 councils in England are taking place as well as mayoral elections in London, Bristol, Liverpool and Salford, not forgetting the two parliamentary by-elections in Bridgend and Sheffield.

A busy day then, a ‘Super Thursday,’ when decisions have to be made, where feelings and logic intermingle amongst the hyperbole and hope. This day of polling comes at a time when the nation is trying to work out its stance on Europe. She we stay or should we go? The shadow of the referendum looms and many of us continue to be confused and disappointed by the debate as the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of being in or out of Europe are made. Here, again, instinctive feelings and rational logic sit uncomfortably side by side.

On this ‘Super Thursday,’ I wonder if anyone has remembered that it is also Ascension Day? The Ascension of our Lord is graphically described by Luke in his gospel and in the Book of Acts (if indeed he is to be ascribed as the author of Acts). In Christian art and iconography the disciples are sometimes portrayed as being in a state of disarray. They seem to be looking in different directions –  some are talking, some are pensive, some are pointing, some are bewildered. This is not a picture of unity but confusion… and it pleases me! I am grateful that the first disciples are as baffled as I am at this time of Ascension. The Church seems confused too. Do we celebrate the Easter season for 40 days or 50? When do we extinguish the Paschal candle (lit at the beginning of the Easter Vigil) at Ascension or Pentecost? Perhaps these are small, unimportant details about times and dates, or maybe they concern you?

Russian Orthodox icon
Russian Orthodox icon,

At the heart of the matter lies the Ascension of Christ on this ‘Super Thursday’ which does leave us, his followers, in a state of confusion. It is interesting to note how many mistakes and misunderstandings arose today at morning prayer. Is this the continuation of centuries worth befuddlement about what happened to Jesus’ earthly body and about our own moral, civic and spiritual choices? Decisions are needed on this ‘Super Thursday’ at the end of Eastertide – what do our instinctive feelings convey? What does our rational logic suggest? How are we to follow this invisible leader? What way should we go? How might we stand together? The Archbishops’ of Canterbury and York suggest that we should pray. The prayer initiative called Thy Kingdom Come promotes a ‘great wave of prayer’ in these ‘empty’ days between Ascension and Pentecost. Pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, pray for peace in this broken world, pray for Jesus’ kingdom to become real and present and shared by all. I commend you to do something and vote with your feet, if not, with praying hands on bended knee.

Author: Gavin Knight

The Revd Gavin Knight has been the Vicar of St Michael & All Angels, Summertown in the Oxford Diocese since September 2011. After serving his title at St Alphege, Solihull, Gavin became parish priest of St Andrew's Fulham Fields in London. He moved to Wales in 2005 becoming Chaplain to Monmouth School. He is married to Jo, a clinical psychologist, and they have three sons.