7th Sunday of Easter
The Sunday after Ascension
God has gone up with a shout,
The Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
Praise the name of the Lord;
Ascribe greatness to our God.
Lord, open our lips
and we shall praise your name.
Old Testament Reading: Ezekiel 36. 24–28
New Testament Reading: Acts 1. 6–14
Gospel : John 17; 1-11
Reflection: Today we all are in an uneasy situation. We just had Ascension Day and we are awaiting Whitsun, with another week to go.
It feels as if we are orphans left neglected. Christ has gone to heaven, here we are left behind. And of course we know that the Holy Spirit is coming, but nevertheless we feel uncertain. In fact we can hopefully experience the Holy Spirit already in our daily life.
But still we have an uneasy feeling as if we are in a surreal gap in time. I’m sure that many people who experience the so called lock down have similar feelings. Left without physical contacts, left without people visiting us and indeed no church service to attend.
Many of us know by experience what it is to be orphaned. Maybe our parents have passed away, maybe our husband or wife was ‘promoted to glory’.
Becoming an orphan is difficult indeed, whether you are 20 or 80 years of age. One feels as if your umbilical cord is cut, the lifeline that fed you early in your life is no more.
For the disciples it must has been a difficult situation too.
They had experienced Good Friday as the end of the life of Christ and thereby their future. They could not believe that Christ would come back within three days. But to their great joy they later saw the risen Christ on several occasions. That gave them a new impetus to continue the work as disciples.
And now Jesus was gone to his Father. Out of Sight, but hoping not out of the mind of Christ.
Our gospel for today (John 17.1-11) is reflecting on the words of Christ BEFORE he would suffer on the cross. Jesus wants to prepare his disciples for the period that they couldn’t see him, not speak to him nor have dinner with him, nor have a good conversion on the coming of the kingdom of God.
Jesus had promised to send the Holy Spirit. They must have thought: First see, and then believe, just like Didymus or Thomas in the upper room, just after Easter. Locked in that upper room they were all connected again.
At the end of our gospel reading Jesus speaks about unity among his followers: That all may be one.
Among theologians and ministers, and in particular those involved in an ecumenical setting, we are having discussions on unity. What it means and how this unity is shaped and visible. It is for sure that this urge for unity is taken seriously. The aspired unity is a given in the bible, but how do we get it? When the previous Pope called for unity, a non-Roman Catholic question is usually raised: On whose condition are we getting united?
Non-liturgical people say that all who confess Jesus as Lord and Saviour are united in Him.
With blessings, Rev Joop Albers
Prayer for 7th Sunday of Easter
This prayer comes from a blog post from Bishop David where he says:-
“The Jesuits in the USA have circulated this prayer which I think many will find useful”
Jesus Christ, you travelled through towns and villages “curing every disease and illness.” At your command, the sick were made well. Come to our aid now, in the midst of the global spread of the coronavirus, that we may experience your healing love.
Heal those who are sick with the virus. May they regain their strength and health through quality medical care.
Heal us from our fear, which prevents nations from working together and neighbours from helping one another.
Heal us from our pride, which can make us claim invulnerability to a disease that knows no borders.
Jesus Christ, healer of all, stay by our side in this time of uncertainty and sorrow.
Be with those who have died from the virus. May they be at rest with you in your eternal peace.
Be with the families of those who are sick or have died. As they worry and grieve, defend them from illness and despair. May they know your peace.
Be with the doctors, nurses, researchers and all medical professionals who seek to heal and help those affected and who put themselves at risk in the process. May they know your protection and peace.
Be with the leaders of all nations. Give them the foresight to act with charity and true concern for the well-being of the people they are meant to serve. Give them the wisdom to invest in long-term solutions that will help prepare for or prevent future outbreaks. May they know your peace, as they work together to achieve it on earth.
Whether we are home or abroad, surrounded by many people suffering from this illness or only a few, Jesus Christ, stay with us as we endure and mourn, persist and prepare. In place of our anxiety, give us your peace.
Jesus Christ, heal us.
Anthem: Coelos ascendit hodie – Charles V. Stanford (Ascension)
Hymn: NEH 296 – Lord enthroned in heavenly splendour
Songs of Praise recording
Yours, Lord, is the greatness, the power,
the glory, the splendour, and the majesty:
for everything in heaven and on earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom:
and you are exalted as head over all.
Alleluia, Alleluia. Amen.