Message: While we wait between chapters, we grow closer to God, a sermon based on Acts 1:6-14 & John 17:1-11 (Easter 7A).
Today we begin the last week of Pascha, the fifty-day celebration of Christ’s resurrection. The fifty days ends next Sunday with the Day of Pentecost.
On Thursday was Ascension Day: after walking resurrected with his disciples for 40 days, Jesus was taken into heaven to be everywhere present. As he left, he told his followers to wait for the promised gift of the Holy Spirit.
We don’t have to wait for the Spirit – who’s already here with us. But then again, sometimes we do face similar in between times, don’t we?
Sometimes the job is done. The mission is completed.
We look to God for the next step and God says “Wait”. How do we relate to God in the times when God tells us only to wait?
The Gospel of John, Chapter 17
In our Gospel reading, we heard 11 verses from the “farewell discourse”. It was Jesus speech, 4 Chapters long, to prepare his disciples for after his Ascension. Much of it is about relationships: Father, Son, Holy Spirit and us.
If we tried to draw it, then it would messy – just like real life.
We are drawn into the mystery at the heart of the universe, life, love and meaning. I’m not keen on mystery: I like the real presence of Jesus: words; and actions.
What’s important is that we surrender to this relationship with God. Maybe that’s what the in-between times are for. When we’re busy we don’t always have time to spend with God.
Just before Jesus Ascended into heaven, the disciples asked ‘Lord, when will you restore Israel?’ They wanted some action! Jesus told them it was not for them to know when, but that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes; they would be his witnesses to the ends of the earth.
Action and Waiting
You’ve known action. The busyness of employment, homemaking, community building, paying bills, raising children, service, socialising and caring for others.
You’re still doing things, perhaps the pace is a bit slower now. You’re still witnessing – witnessing to other residents, staff & family. We wait. Like the Disciples, we ask: ‘what next?’
Perhaps we don’t feel refreshed & renewed. Like the first disciples waiting for Pentecost, it sometimes feels as though God is absent and avoiding us in these times.
But we need it. A pause between activities. Time for God.
So let’s thank God for the gift of “in-between” times, for retreat, waiting and not knowing. Let’s accept this time for growing into the mystery in God, waiting (Isa 40:31). We can rest in the unknown. A new chapter will open soon enough.
God will call us to new life and purpose and mission – we don’t know what, but that’s OK.
Come, Holy Spirit, Come.
This sermon is based on one by Nathan Nettleton, ©LaughingBird.net, 4 May 2008, which you can find here.