Scripture for the sixth Sunday of Easter:
Acts 2.1-21; Psalm 104.26-36,37b*; 1 Corinthians 12.3b-13*; John 20.19-23
* Not used for online worship
Our Archdeacon, the Revd. David Waller, was unable to visit Menorca as planned during the weekend of 16-17 May. Not to be thwarted by a pandemic, he suggested that we consider a ‘virtual visit,’ which although lacking in the opportunity to see Menorca and be plied with its fare, still allows some time to connect with the chaplaincy.
Following video conference meetings with the chaplain and members of the PCC, David offered words of welcome and blessing, as well as recording a sermon for our online worship.
In his sermon, he mentioned the example of Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish friar who offered to take the place of a stranger, Franciszek Gajowniczek, condemned to be starved to death at Auschwitz. During his time in the death cell, Maximilian led the prisoners in prayer. When he alone remained alive, the guards killed him with a lethal injection. Throughout his ordeal, he was able to remain calm and prayerful.
David used this example to illustrate that even when we are most alone and anxious, it is possible to be supported by the Holy Spirit, something that Jesus promised to his followers as they gathered for a final meal before things started to fall apart for them all – an anxious and unsettling time, for which they were to need the support of the Spirit.
We, too, can be sustained by the promise and presence of this paraclete, or advocate, one who speaks up for us and to us when we feel alone, anxious, or afraid – which is not the exclusive domain of those isolated by quarantine.
Franciszek Gajowniczek went on to live to the age of 93, and was constant in his thankfulness for the 53 years of life given to him by Maximilian Kolbe. It is a dramatic example of one person laying down their life for another.