This is the day

In 1999, I hit on what I thought at the time was a brilliant idea for helping our country to see the true origin of the millennium in Christianity. In 2000, so went my proposals, why not make a point of celebrating Ascension Day?

Take the day off work, take the children out of school, and make folk sit up and take notice. Unfortunately, someone graciously pointed out to me that Ascension Day fell during half-term in 2000, and therefore no-one would notice. The idea, needless to say, was forgotten.

A reader of my acquaintance worked as a shelf-stacker for a now-defunct large supermarket chain, where he exercised a fascinating ministry in bereavement support among the shoppers he knew. He specifically asked to be permitted to take Good Friday off on religious grounds. He was refused, and resigned immediately.

With the government trying to legislate more and more so that we respect each other's religions, perhaps now is the time for Christians to stand up to be counted as well.

The Church of England is not exactly brilliant at declaring feasts of obligation, but maybe Ascension Day could properly become a rallying-point for the defence of our faith. Its occurrence on a Thursday is a good starting point, and among older folk there is still a distant memory of choirs singing from the tops of towers and schools going first to church, then having the rest of the day off.

At least the days of my reader friend's being forced to work on Good Friday are now over - or are they? If you know of someone doing forced labour while we were observing the crucifixion, is it perhaps the time to inform the thought-police, quick enough to react when political correctness is not upheld.

And why stop at Ascension Day? What about the Feast of Corpus Christi? Or Ash Wednesday as a day of penitence, as indeed found in some other faiths?

The possibilities aren't exactly endless - but it would be good for us to make some sort of a stand.

After all, others will unquestionably be getting Eid off next year, and rightly so.

Stephen Cope

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