A Sonnet for Ascension Day

 Here is a sonnet for Ascension Day, the glorious finale of the Easter Season. I’m posting it a day in advance, in case anyone would like to use it in a service, either on the day itself or else this Sunday.

In the mystery of the Ascension we reflect on the way in which, one sense Christ ‘leaves’ us and is taken away into Heaven, but in another sense he is given to us and to the world in a new and more universal way. He is no longer located only in one physical space to the exclusion of all others. He is in the Heaven which is at the heart of all things now and is universally accessible to all who call upon Him. And since His humanity is taken into Heaven, our humanity belongs there too, and is in a sense already there with him.”For you have died”, says St. Paul, “and your life is hidden with Christ in God”. In the Ascension Christ’s glory is at once revealed and concealed, and so is ours.  The sonnet form seemed to me one way to begin to tease these things out.

This sonnet is drawn from my collection Sounding the Seasons, published by Canterbury Press here in England. The book is now back in stock on both Amazon UK and USA . The book is now also out on Kindle.

Please feel free to make use of this, and my other sonnets in church services and to copy and share them. If you can mention the book from which they are taken that would be great.
As always you can hear the sonnet by clicking on the ‘play’ button if it appears in your browser or by clicking on the title of the poem.

I’m grateful to Oliver Neale for the image above, the image below was taken as we launched rockets to celebrate Ascension day at Girton College:

We have lift off!


We saw his light break through the cloud of glory
Whilst we were rooted still in time and place
As earth became a part of Heaven’s story
And heaven opened to his human face.
We saw him go and yet we were not parted
He took us with him to the heart of things
The heart that broke for all the broken-hearted
Is whole and Heaven-centred now, and sings,
Sings in the strength that rises out of weakness,
Sings through the clouds that veil him from our sight,
Whilst we our selves become his clouds of witness
And sing the waning darkness into light,
His light in us, and ours in him concealed,
Which all creation waits to see revealed .

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Filed under Girton

8 responses to “A Sonnet for Ascension Day

  1. revdavidgrieve

    Thank you 

    DavidSent from my iPhone


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  2. David Nash

    Thanks for this. I served as a Curate at the Church of the Ascension, Wembley, where there is a fine mural by Hans Feibusch -a constant reminder of this day.

  3. Hi,

    Just a suggestion for a fix on your beautiful emails, the From: Center for Financial. Not sure if you’ve noticed this, your emails come with this unusual From.



    Sent from my T-Mobile 4G LTE Device

  4. Patricia Montarella

    I rarely respond. Having experienced the death of my mother on March 11 this year, I find myself thinking about heaven frequently. Grief is inevitable, but I feel confident I will see her again one day. She was stricken with vascular dementia after a fall in 2017. As she began to decline dramatically last fall, she began to sing “Jesus Paid it All” fairly regularly; it was as if she was reminding us she was destined for heaven, because of Jesus’s gift, and that anyone else COULD join her.
    Having joined a Presbyterian church last year after being a Southern Baptist all my life, I am enjoying the liturgical calendar and all the reminders. It is a real gift to someone labeled a “senior citizen” to have a fresh look at the Truth.

  5. Love this beautiful sonnet.

  6. stephenjohnson929

    Dear Malcolm,

    honestly, what do you think happened to Jesus’ body?

    Dissolved into thin air like all living things, so yes, therefore eternal…

    It is not beyond the realms of possibility that it was removed by those persons, disciples among them probably, keen to promote our Lord as a miracle worker, on himself, needing no outside help? It does beggar belief and I do follow his ‘human’ path, it is so utterly beautiful…the conscious emptying of self; so rare.

    My intuition is that Jesus was an ordinary man with feet of clay but of such a tender, compassionate heart and always at one with all that is, was and will be, through the breath or ‘holy spirit’.

    All the best, Stephen

    PS. The poems are very fine. Any more books in the offing?

    Sent from Outlook for Androidhttps://aka.ms/AAb9ysg ________________________________

    • malcolmguite

      Thanks Stephen
      I understand your line of reasoning but I so actually believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus and that he is there in a mode of being beyond our categories, there at the heart of things. I think that if the resurrection was a deliberate falsehood the different accounts of it would be more consistent with each other, as it is the radically different encounters and accounts and accounts of it have the ring of real eye witness accounts, not something that’s been fixed or fudged

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