Last Thursday, May 13th, was Ascension Day. This view of Oxford, from the tower of Harris Manchester College, taken shortly after a special early morning rooftop service, may be considered a surprising start to a Unitarian blog - the festival of Ascension, in memory of the passage in the biblical book of Acts, when the resurrected Christ is taken up to heaven on a cloud, is not a usual feature of our beliefs.
But I believe there should be room for at least the symbolism of this moment. As a student for the Unitarian ministry I am often asked by other, more traditional theology students, how it is that Unitarians can simply airbrush centuries of Christian belief, doctrine and dogma from their personal histories. The simple answer is that they can't. Unitarians have, in Europe and the USA at least, emerged from a long tradition of Christian teaching - without this history we would be very poorly founded. Yet we have more than that; we are a religious movement that listens and learns from many religious traditions. That's not to say we are necessarily Pluralists - we do not all believe that all religions are leading towards the same truth. We perhaps suggest that there are many truths for many people. And it is the acceptance that we can all help one another on our own paths towards that truth, or those truths, in communities and congregations that brought me to this movement.
It is the worship of God, by whichever or whatever name she might be known, through the medium of prayer, service and love, that has held this movement together over the Centuries. We are perpetually reborn, and left to spread a message of love by human means, much as the early Apostles. Ascension was the day that the Christ was said to have entrusted God's message of love to be promulgated by humankind. That is our mission as Unitarians. Ascension Day is a celebration for all.