Collect and Readings for Seventh Sunday of Easter – Acts 16.16-34, Ezekiel 36.24-28, Psalm 97, Revelation 22.12-14, 16-17, 20-end, John 17.20-end
The Prayer for today O God the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: we beseech you, leave us not comfortless, but send your Holy Spirit to strengthen us and exalt us to the place where our Saviour Christ is gone before, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
As we reach the final part of Jesus' great prayer before his arrest, recorded with perception and empathy by John, we cannot fail to be moved by the heartfelt yearning shown there. Jesus truly loves this untidy band of companions, and longs passionately for them to become bound to their God and to one another as they have already begun to in his company. And then suddenly find that we, too, are being prayed for by our Saviour on the night before he dies. We are the ones who have come to believe through the witness of the apostles, and the years between melt away as we become aware of the personal handing-on in succession, one to another down through the generations from these friends to whoever it was who introduced us to Jesus.
There is a great air of excitement in the readings today because we don't have to wait to start living this new Resurrection life Jesus promised. Pentecost is only a week away, the Lord reigns, Jesus in glory is also close with us, and the joy of living the risen life is infectious, as the marvellous reading from Acts shows.
In these days of celebrating Pentecost, we see the effects of Pentecost, graphically described by Luke. It seems that Paul and Silas were at first content to let the slave girl direct people to the truth about them, but as it went on for days, they must have found it getting to them. The imprisoning effect of this spirit on the poor girl must also have been increasingly obvious. Ironically, it is for liberating someone that the friends are beaten black and blue and thrown into prison.
And what do they do? They sit bruised and bleeding in painful stocks and sing their hearts out, praising God! That is living the new life. That unquenchable, bubbling joy in real, lasting things is what other people notice and are attracted to. That night it changed the lives of the jailer and his entire family, and quite possibly some of the other prisoners as well.
Some things to reflect on:
Can you think of other Christians whose reactions to suffering and disaster have allowed you to catch sight of where their treasure lies?
Are we living this new life yet? (If not think about preparing for this year's Pentecost with real longing to receive the Spirit of God afresh)
God bless and stay safe and well.
Rev'd Fiona Robinson