Once upon a time many years ago there was a large company which built a brand new company HQ – a big seven story affair.
The company had a lot of postal business, and so – on the ground floor, at the back of the new building – was a big post room The supervisor and the staff for this mail room were recruited locally as the new building was opened.
The new mail room supervisor turned out to be a natural – not only organizing effectively, but also motivating his team powerfully. It was only a matter of time before he was promoted. He became Building Services Manager, with responsibility not only for post, but for cleaning, office supplies, and maintenance and so on. This turned out to be just the first of a series of promotions. Gradually his brief widened – including overall responsibility for IT and then HR and more…
The organization was one of those traditional places where the more senior you got, the higher up the building you went, the bigger your desk became, and the deeper the pile on your office carpet.
Slowly but surely the Post Room supervisor moved up the building – till he reached the 5th Floor reserved for Senior Management, then the 6th, Directors, Floor. Finally the day came when the Post Room Supervisor was appointed CEO and moved in next to the Board Room in the top floor Chief Exec’s Penthouse Office.
Meanwhile one of the others who been appointed to the Post Room staff all those years ago was also still working in the building.
Taken on as a clerical assistant, he hadn’t made the same spectacular progress- he was good at his job most of the time, but a bit erratic and unpredictable – that had held him back – but nonetheless he too had progressed, and by the time his old boss made it to the top floor, he had taken over his old boss’s job as Mail Room Supervisor.
Each morning the new Chief Exec came into work – 7.30 a.m. on the dot The lift in front of him was there to whisk him to the 7th Floor. But those in the building knew he would never take it. Always he would walk past the lift to the Post Room in the back, say hi to those working there, and then take the stairs, stopping on each floor as he went.
So each day Josh Davidson the Chief Exec and Pete Symons the Post Room Supervisor would talk and enquire of each other.
Josh’s power and responsibility was now vast – but of course it still included – among many other things – the post room.
And as he would often say to Pete – we have a great product here – – but where would we be without you guys in the post room to spread the word?
I don’t want to claim too much for this story – please don’t start analyzing the detail, pushing the analogies too far,
But maybe it has something to say to us on the Sunday after Ascension Day –
Something about Jesus ascending from one particular place in human history to rule over all the cosmos
Something about him moving above and beyond Peter and the Church yet still being with them
The Bible of course uses different and more powerful images –
telling how Jesus Son of David ascended on high –
not to sit on the Chief Exec’s Chair but on the Heavenly throne – treading not deep pile carpet but pavements of gold.
And to Simon Peter and the Disciples he said:
“I may have left you in one sense, but I am with you always –
and I want you to spread the word!”
The Bible tells the story of how Christ rose and ascended to heaven – “up and over all” – he did not ascend to go away from us, but to rule over us and all people.
And it tells us, that for all his heavenly glory, Christ remains with us always, by our side in this life, calling us to share in his work.
And it also tells us that whatever the future may bring –
whatever, wherever we may be, in this world or the world to come – no one is ultimately beyond his power and care
When we see the photos of Zimbabwean torture
or of an Austrian prison cellar,
it can sometimes seem that God has abandoned our world
to the powers of evil.
But as the story of the ascension tells us,
even these powers will not finally prevail –
for in the end Christ is Lord of Heaven and Earth –
against whom ultimately even the gates and cellar doors of hell
shall not prevail.
So at Ascensiontide, let us rejoice in the cosmic rule of Christ,
knowing that there is nowhere beyond his power and care.
And as we approach our Church Anniversary,
let us commit ourselves to serving and working
with our Lord in the Church here below,
as we trust that ultimately we will know and serve him
in the Church triumphant above.
“He left them and was taken up into heaven” (Lk 24:51)