A Message From The Bishop
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Paris last November. Brussels airport in April. Orlando in June. Baton Rouge. Minneapolis. Dallas. Nice. In our own country and abroad, the list of violent killings seems endless. Many go by almost unnoticed. On the evening of July 2nd in Baghdad, for instance, as Muslim families gathered to break Ramadan fast, one suicide car bomb killed more than 200 men, women, and children.
Some of these are acts of terrorism, some reflect deep racial disparities in our society and a continuing racism in our culture, some reveal a societal breakdown of trust. The sniper-style murder of five police officers as they protected protesters and calmly kept the peace in Dallas and the ambush of officers in Baton Rouge that killed three were as unimaginable and horrifying as the live-streamed killing of Philando Castile in a suburban Minnesota traffic stop.
The current volume and degree of violence produce both an emotional burden of fear and a spiritual burden of doubt. We wonder: Can we be safe anywhere? What could happen at the conventions in Cleveland this week and in Philadelphia the following week? Where is God in all of this? Is there any “good” upon which we can ever rely?
It is important that we talk and pray about these things in church. Both consciously and unconsciously, we are carrying them around with us all the time. The names of towns where people no different from us live and work and raise their families – Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Columbine – forever trigger traumatic images of bloodshed and heartache. There is no vacation from this burden; wherever we go, we take it with us. And if we are not bringing these emotional and spiritual burdens to church, then we are not bringing our whole selves to church. We need a time to hold them in our collective hearts and to place them in God’s hands, if only for that hour, and to recognize that we are not alone.
The power of evil, of course, wants us to feel helpless, because then we will be vulnerable to its ways. It wants us to feel isolated, from each other and from God, because that is the only way it wins.
Helplessness makes us susceptible to violence and to the excessive exercise of power, ourselves. Witness the colossal arming of the American public with both legal and illegal firearms. The United States has 113 guns for every 100 Americans. Even as a gun owner myself, I find this a shocking figure. It is the highest guns-per-capita ratio in the world, and it goes up every day.
Helplessness leads to the demonization of those who are different, to ostracizing the other. It results in the dehumanization of everyone, victims and perpetrators alike, and to the general devaluing of all life.
And helplessness leads us to a paralyzing cultural disrespect of one another, as seen in the contemptuous tone of campaign rhetoric in our own country, and globally in the xenophobic tendency of protectionist populism.
But we are not helpless. Our help is in a God who is greater than all this. As the 124th Psalm proclaims, “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” And it is in church and in our prayer lives that we connect with that help.
In worship and in prayer we are reminded that we are not helpless, but are beloved of God, and in being loved by the divine without condition, we are empowered to love in response. In Matthew 5 Jesus says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” To be children of God means to be godly, to be invulnerable to the power of evil. Praying for our enemies is not about condoning their actions, it is about emboldening ourselves to resist participating in them. In the words of St. Paul’s letter to the church at Rome, it emboldens us to “cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
The armor of light is not a garment of passivity. It is the uniform of advocacy, justice, compassion, accountability, and truth. And it is anything but helpless. This is what Jesus offers and demands of us, whether we come to church seeking it or not – the companionship and hope of a loving and just God who empowers us to be the very body of Christ, the human manifestation of divine love in our perilous but not helpless time.
So when we pray for that peace that passes all understanding, let us do so with a bold hope and a willingness to go to whatever length it takes to achieve it. That is what our savior Jesus did; that is what it will take for us to be his body today. No matter who you are or how you got here, no matter how great is your conviction of inadequacy or guilt or shame, no matter what you think of yourself or what you fear others might think of you, you are exactly what God needs to heal the world, not because of who you are, but because of who God is.
In the face of even the greatest evil, we are not helpless. “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
May God clothe you in the armor of light, empower you to be healers of this broken world, and keep you safe.
The Rt. Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Jr.
Bishop of Ohio
Our neighborhood outreach Frankfurter Fridays is back! Join us on the front lawn for croquet, games, food and fun. This is an excellent opportunity to remain a visible presence in our neighborhood and enjoy ourselves in a relaxed atmosphere.
Frankfurter Fridays run every other Friday from 6 to 7pm. Check our upcoming events for the next one and join us for some good fun.
What Is The Church's Stance On...
We’ve all heard Fr. Vincent tell us that he isn’t here to give us all the answers to our spiritual questions. Rather, we should rely on him for help as we wrestle with our faith, doubts, decisions, and questions. This is a common response within the Episcopal Church, but why?
We are all involved in helping the Church shape its doctrine. How does this happen? What does it mean that we are part of the Anglican Communion? These questions and more are discussed in a resource document that examines the history of the Episcopal church, our Anglican roots, decision-making within the church, and more.
Watch the video for a brief primer on the document.
Issued by The House of Bishops, the document can be read or downloaded by clicking on the title Re-Membering And Re-Imagining: Essays On The Episcopal Church.
An Interview with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church
The Most Reverend Michael Curry became presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church last November. Judy Woodruff of PBS’s Newshour sat down with Bishop Curry to learn how he is leading the church – Click the link below to see the interview.
I have been in the Episcopal Church my whole life. We are a better Episcopal Church because we really are trying to welcome all.
Ascension Book Club
Join us on the last Tuesday of every month, from 6-7pm for our Book Club. Our book this month is Immortal Diamond by Richard Rohr.
We will meet in Ascension Hall. Books are available in the office for $15.00. Come prepared to discuss the book, having read it of course. Light refreshments will be served. As a reminder, there is a Taize service at 7:30 on the same evening so you might plan to attend both as your schedule permits.
Taizé - A Meditative Service
The prayer services that Taizé offers are a form of worship to God that incorporates the vision of a united Church, as in the earliest years of Christianity, long before there were the divisions between Protestants and Catholics and the many denominations and disagreements of later history. The prayer services are also meant to be simple enough that all guests of the community, including those with no exposure to faith traditions of any kind may feel a welcoming space to experience holiness and peace.
The two major parts of a Taizé prayer which distinguish it from other worship services are the songs and silence. The Taizé songs are extremely short and are repeated many times. Unlike the Hymns we usually sing on Sunday where we praise God in many verses, the Taizé songs use repetition to allow one simple reality or hope to enter deeply into our hearts. For example “The Lord is my light, my light and salvation, in God I trust.” At the heart of any Taizé prayer however is Silence. Silence lasts a long time, almost as long as a sermon, and is offered again to allow space for all people to experience a collective quiet, whether one sits in total stillness, offers quiet intercessions or even journals a few thoughts.
The Taizé Community in Central France is home to 100 men from every part of the world who live together as monastics. Their community is joined year round by nuns, priests and visitors, mostly young adults who come and share the life of the Brothers, oriented by prayer and simple physical labor. There are as many as 100,000 visitors every year, and sometimes as many as 6,000 young adults praying in the “Church of Reconciliation” joining the three daily prayer services the Brothers of Taizé have as part of their daily rule of life. The Services of the Taizé Brothers are a liturgy they have created over the years inspired both by Early Christianity and by their many guests.
Join us for this meditative respite the last Tuesday of every month at 7:30pm.
Join us for Adult Formation every week between services from 9:15-10am. We will continue discussing what we believe as Episcopalians using Episcopal Questions, Episcopal Answers. All are welcome to join for one or all discussions.
If you want to listen or re-listen to a sermon, we’ve archived most of them for you. Simply look for “Sermons” on the banner at the top and click on it.
Nursery and Sunday School
The Church of the Ascension is happy to offer a Nursery for babies and toddlers as well as a Children’s Service, for children who aren’t quite ready to join the adult celebration. Our trained nursery leaders are here for your child(ren), so you can reflect, reconnect, and recharge. In our Children’s Service, kids can expect to be entertained with projects, crafts, and stories that illustrate God’s love. The class also helps to prepare the children to join their parents and the greater church family during the main service. Kids start with their families and are escorted to class after the welcome message, returning during the exchange of peace.
Church of the Ascension adheres the guidelines outlined in Safeguarding God’s Children, which includes more than one adult attending to children at all times. Parents are always welcome to join or observe either group at any time.
All are welcome to find a spiritual home at the Church at Ascension. We are community that encourages questions, seeks answers, and strives to use Jesus’s example in our daily lives.
We’re family friendly and offer the opportunity to find peace, reflect on our spirituality, and experience God’s never ending love, compassion, and grace.
For those wishing to use their time and talents to make the world a brighter place, Church of the Ascension has many active Community Outreach programs.
Join us to begin or renew a relationship with God.
God Loves You! No Exceptions!