Thoughts from the Vicarage 17th May.
Readings for Easter 6: Acts 17: 22-31, 1 Peter 3: 13-end, John 14: 15-21, Psalm 66: 7-end
After waiting for the latest government announcement regarding the easing of restrictions there seems to be a lot of confusion. People are not quite sure about the advice to stay alert, stay at home, get outside, go back to work if you can, avoid using public transport if possible, social distance on public transport, send children back into schools in June, but not all of them. It has all led to more questions than answers and more uncertainty. People want to do what is right but need clear direction and that can only happen with good communication.
Paul was a good communicator, when he arrived in Athens, he began to cause people to question what he was saying about Jesus and the resurrection but he left them in no doubt. What was his message?, Well it was very clear. By worshipping various gods that they had designed to suit their needs, they were missing out on knowing our creator God, how he wants us to live and how and why He raised Jesus from the dead.
Paul’s explanation of God’s desire for us to reach out for Him and know His presence with us reminds us that ‘in him we live and move and have our being’ and furthermore God commands all people everywhere to repent, to turn away from everything in their lives that draws us away from Him and to know the risen Christ.
Our Easter celebration seems a long time ago, but we are still in the Easter season, until Ascension Day as we celebrate Jesus returning to the Father. Imagine the confusion for those first disciples, to have gone through the last few weeks since Good Friday, the emotions of being bereaved, the joy of coming together again and now to be told that they would be left once again. Jesus knew that they would need some help, some clear direction, and promised the Counsellor would come, the Holy Spirit, who would connect them to him and the Father, who would give them wisdom and guidance.
On Thursday it will be Ascension Day again, we may well be feeling a little lost and confused in our circumstances as it is, or we may know people who are feeling that way but the Church of England has a prayer initiative called Thy Kingdom Come, praying from 21st to 31st May, the time between Ascension and Pentecost. We are encouraged to pray for 5 people who we know are not Christians, that one of them might come to encounter the love of God in Christ and experience that love in action. Once restrictions have been lifted, we can then invite them to Church and help them become disciples.
As we move towards Pentecost, may we stay alert. Look for God in the midst of the confusion and ask that the Holy Spirit will show us who to be praying for. Amen.
Rev Sue Sidebottom
Collect for Today (17th May 2020)
God our redeemer, you have delivered us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of your Son: grant, that as by his death he has recalled us to life, so by his continual presence in us he may raise us to eternal joy; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.