7th Sunday of Easter
by Revd Michael Freeman
Readings: Acts 16-14; 1 Peter 412-14 & 56-11; John 171-11.
The forty days from Easter to Ascension Day (last Thursday) mark the time Of Jesus’ resurrection appearances. The Book of Acts begins by telling how “after his suffering Jesus presented himself alive to the disciples by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over the course of forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.” It was a time of instruction and preparation to turn disciples (= followers) into apostles (= people sent out). It can be seen as a parallel to Jesus’ own forty days of prayer and fasting in the wilderness, a vital time of preparation for his own ministry. For all of us, the six weeks since Easter should have been a time of learning and preparation for whatever tasks God has for us, “all such good works as he has prepared for us to walk in” in the language of one prayer sometimes used after communion (and ultimately taken from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians).
Like those we read about in today’s passage from Acts – the men and women, the acknowledged leaders and the rank-and-file – we should “devote ourselves to prayer”, trying to discern what those “good works” might be and looking for the gift of the Spirit to empower us for the various tasks to which we have been called. We can do this knowing that Jesus himself prays for us (as in the reading from John).
As our society gradually emerges from lockdown with a mixture of relief and apprehension, we need the strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit for our individual callings within our families and neighbourhoods. We need it too for our shared responsibilities as members of Christ’s Church to make God’s kingdom a reality for all who live in our parish. The Church is apostolic, so we are all ambassadors sent out with a message of peace and reconciliation to live out day by day.
Seeking to be open to the Spirit and ready to see the signs of God’s coming kingdom is the focus of the Church’s prayer this week as we prepare to celebrate Pentecost next Sunday.
Jesus declares: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Let us wait eagerly for Christ’s promised gift.
Let us use the gift to fulfil the commission he gives us.