Scripture for the seventh Sunday of Easter: Acts 1.6-14; Psalm 68.1-10, 33-36; 1 Peter 4.12-14; 5:6-11; John 17.1-11
This seventh Sunday of Easter is an in-between place, after Ascension and before Pentecost.
If we put ourselves in the place of the first disciples, we find ourselves in a position of waiting, perhaps sharing in their duty of devotion to prayer. We also have to recall that they simply did not know what to do or to expect: whether literally or metaphorically, the image of staring blankly into space is an apt illustration.
And there are many analogies to this in-between state: from churches in interregnum, to “empty nest” parents, to difficult medical diagnosis, or the loss of a loved one. All of them lead to a state of waiting and wondering.
Faith teaches us to devote ourselves to prayer in such circumstances. This is why this period is traditionally a special time of prayer. Nevertheless, given that prayer is dialogue, which means listening, we must be prepared to hear, “What are you going to do?” as an answer.
Monday in Manchester showed what people can do, whether praying Christians or not: helping those in distress, taking whatever we have to offer and placing it in the service of those in need.
This is what it means to accept the mantle of Christ, the mantle that he passed to his disciples, but for which they had to wait.
Perhaps the best metaphor for these in-between states is that of an intermezzo: a piece of music that links two others; after the first, the intermezzo tells us to be ready for something else to come soon. In the spirit of intermezzo, Jesus told his disciples to be ready to share his mantle after waiting; and as they discovered, eventually, they would have to accept the mantle of suffering – not just physical and mental hardship, as many did, and still do, but the suffering of being out of tune with the world; of seeing the world fail to be what it could be, what God wishes it to be.
As we pray, “Let your kingdom come,” and for guidance to play our part, we can also immerse ourselves in the spirit of intermezzo. Because something else is coming, even if we don’t know exactly what and when. But we can be open and prepared for whatever God may send.