Collect and Readings for Sunday 16th May 2021 Year B Ezekiel 36.24-28, Psalm 1, 1 John 5.9-13, Acts 1.15-17.21-end, John 17.6-19
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.
Last Thursday was marked as the Feast of the Ascension, which saw the earthly ministry of Jesus draw to a close and the prospect of God's Spirit flooding into believers, so that in that power they would be enabled to spread the good news down the generations and out to every far-flung community on earth.
In our reading from Acts we see the disciples growing up and taking their responsibility seriously, even before the empowering has taken place. We are told that already there are about a hundred and fifty of them and Peter is the leader. Their first job they see is choosing a replacement for Judas and the main criterion is that the candidate should have been an eye-witness to the entire ministry of Jesus. Sensibly they pray for it to be God's choice, rather than 'help us to choose wisely' but instead 'to show us who you have chosen'. Perhaps sometimes we should think and pray like this.
The elderly John writes his letter to remind his readers that the eternal life God gives us is invested in his Son, therefore it follows that those who accept Jesus as Lord will have that life, and those who reject him will not. Here we go with personal choices once again.Jesus, being human, fully understands the kind of world in which we live and the minefield of temptations we walk through each and every day. As he prayed for his disciples, knowing that he would soon be physically parted from them, Jesus prayed for our protection from evil, and for a realistic harmony and unity.
Looking around the various splits and tensions both within the church and within our communities, it is easy to see why Jesus is so concerned. We only have to watch our television screen to see the violence in the Holy Land. Our witness to the glorious, liberating truth is so weakened by our disunity.Thankfully our churches both local and national are beginning to work ecumenically together to refocus on Jesus and find our common ground rather than focus on our differences. Hopefully in time the great barriers set up over the centuries between Christians of different denominations will crumble and we can focus purely on Jesus Christ. This is the work that God's Spirit does. The more we open ourselves as God's people to receive that empowering love, the more able we will be to love one another, and whilst respecting each other's differences recognise that we are fellow workers with the same Holy Spirit driving us on.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Christ is Risen. Let us look forward to receiving God's Holy Spirit so that we can all pull together to bring the day close when God's Kingdom will come to the earth.
God bless and stay safe and well.
Rev'd Fiona Robinson