Scripture for the seventh Sunday of Easter:
Acts 1.6-14; Psalm 68.1-10*; 1 Peter 4.12-14,5.6-11*; John 17.1-11
*Not used for online worship
Taking someone to Menorca airport on Thursday, I was struck by the eerie state of a place that is so familiar. Generally speaking, when our expectations seem to have been thrown out of the window, we are uncomfortable. There is a certain comfort in predictability, a reassurance in stability. Well, we can say goodbye to all of that, for at least a while. Even the state of things two months from now is rather unpredictable.
This is a time when we might find solace and solidarity with the situation of the followers of Jesus after his ascension. We might find hope, too, in the knowledge that for those disciples, displaced in spirit, if not physically, this was a time of not knowing – just as we are in a time of not knowing.
Those disciples must have wondered what would happen next. Jesus’ death on the cross crushed their hopes; resurrection might have fired their hopes; but Jesus was at pains to redirect their aspirations. They still were off the mark. What were their final words to Jesus? Something about restoring the kingdom to Israel. Their vision needed to be readjusted – which would happen – and we can wait another week to celebrate that.
Meanwhile, we can take some time to rest in the knowledge that even in the uncertainty, God was at work. The disciples would eventually emerge from their upper room to begin to restore the kingdom, but not the one that they expected. And their work continues, in us, today. We will eventually emerge from the equivalent of our ‘upper rooms’ to discover that God has been at work all the time.
Someone told me about a pre-nativity scene that she saw last December. The stable was empty, except for an angel standing in it, with a broom in his hands. The image was of Mary and Joseph, still on the way, without a clue where they would be staying, and yet God’s presence was already there, getting the place ready. It was a powerful image of the way God is often one step ahead of us, preparing for something that we haven’t even considered yet. Right now, there might be a lot of angels with brooms, getting new places in our lives ready for us to occupy.