13th May 2020
The difficult circumstances surrounding the coronavirus continue and for most of us normal life is still on hold, but time isn’t standing still. Eastertide continues; we’re approaching the 6th Sunday of Easter and then Ascension Day on Thursday 21st.
Following the news of the empty tomb the disciples had several encounters with the risen Christ; experiences that gave them proof that Jesus was indeed alive. Perhaps they thought that this would be a permanent state of affairs, but it was to be temporary. The day would come when they would see Jesus ascend to heaven.
Jesus had tried to prepare them for all this. He had told them that he would be crucified and would be raised to life. He also told them what would happen next. One of the set readings for this Sunday is John 14:15-21, where Jesus tells the disciples that he is leaving them and gives them three promises to allay some of their uncertainty and fear.
First, Jesus promises that the Father will send the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, the Spirit of Truth. He is the Spirit of Jesus: he will be with them forever representing Jesus when he is no longer bodily present, and he will support them in the days to come as they do his work in the world. His second promise is that he will come again. This isn’t about the second coming of Jesus at “the end”, but a recognition that because Jesus and the Spirit are inseparable he will be with the disciples in the presence of the Spirit. The third promise is that both Father and Son will live with and within the disciples.
There’s much reassurance for the disciples here. Jesus will leave them, but they won’t have to face the future on their own. The Spirit, who will come to them at Pentecost, is the power of Jesus present even whilst he is physically absent.
In the Greek the pronouns used in the promises are all second person plural, which means that they were made to the disciples as a community rather than as individuals. This tells us that our ongoing relationship with God exists within a community of faith. Jesus tells the disciples and all who come after them, that they can be in relationship with the Father and the Son after the resurrection and ascension. They, and we, can love him even after he is gone. We do this by keeping his commandments, which are summed up in his command to love. Those who keep the commandments are those who love, and those who love will keep the commandments. Whilst we can’t physically meet together in our church building it’s a great comfort to know that the relationship of love that we each have with God also binds us to one another in love for one another.
Finally, please remember that I, the elders and other church members, are here for you. If you need someone to talk to or to pray with you please get in touch. Also, Dawn Weald (Heath’s Parish Nurse) will be happy to receive phone calls from people, in any of our churches, who feel that they might benefit from talking to her. 07803 295002
God bless, Heather