In the church calendar we are in in-between times. Last Thursday we marked the Ascension – Jesus’ farewell to his disciples and return to his Father. Next Sunday we shall remember the coming of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus’ followers at Pentecost – Jesus coming back to them as it were.Jesus had left them. To do what?
He had left them with a job to do – to be his witnesses in the world.
He had left them with a promise – the promise of the Holy Spirit who would enable them to do it.
So they enter a period of waiting – expectant of a new way of living but they could hardly know what that would look like in practice.
We too wait for release from Lockdown – for instructions on, probably, a new way of living for us.
How did the disciples use their waiting time? Today’s Acts reading tells us ‘they were constantly devoting themselves to prayer together’ .
What have we been doing while we wait?
As a church we have been learning new ways of being ‘together’. Morning Prayer has been thriving, drawing in more people than in the past. The Sunday Eucharist has taken a different emphasis, giving us more time in the service to be quiet, for reflection and guided prayer. These are blessings I would not wish to disappear when we return to ‘normal’.
How are we as individuals using the time? Many of us have been able to help neighbours in difficulty because of the crisis. Certainly all manner of interesting activities have been taking place: old musical instruments dusted off, craft kits extracted from work boxes, choirs rehearsing on Zoom, exercise is booming and there can be few gardens that have not been thoroughly cleared of weeds and given a facelift. All good things, God-given opportunities but what of specifically spiritual pursuits? More prayer? Bible study? Meditation perhaps? Maybe like me you made some resolutions at the start of Lockdown but things have tailed off a bit?
My mother used to say: ‘If you can’t say something good don’t say anything, so here is something good. I’d like to highlight something encouraging in the Gospel reading. In John 17 Jesus prays for his disciples, those who belong to him, to be protected in the world. What a prayer! Surely we, as his followers today can take that as his prayer for us too? In Hebrews we read of Jesus, our great High Priest, in heaven ever living to intercede for us. When I feel I am not a very good disciple I find that a great encouragement. So too in the Gospel reading when Jesus says he is ‘glorified’ in his disciples, in the way they are, the way they behave, I take it to apply to us, his disciples now.
Let us take comfort from knowing that in every little thing we do for one another, every little thing we do for Him, we are honouring, glorifying Our Lord.