Sunday, 19 May 2013

Pentecost: Waiting for God

Not the sitting it out waiting to die variety as portrayed in the television series of the same name but the expectant, ‘what’s God going to do now?’ waiting.

Looking at the time from Holy Week through to Pentecost we have been challenged, excited and now . . .?

If we were to live our Christian lives as if everything from Good Friday to Pentecost were a total surprise (and for some, it is) then where would we be now, what would we have felt and be feeling?

The despair and desolation as we follow Christ from the garden to the Temple and from there to Pilate, Herod, Pilate and Golgotha.

The confusion as we see Jesus, the Christ, hung upon a cross and later, in His tomb, sealed behind a stone.

The disbelief which slowly turns to joy as we hear the words, ‘He is Risen!’ from the lips of Mary and others.

The encounter in the upper room when Jesus is suddenly with them; the risen Lord bringing peace and hope to a frightened and troubled people

The many appearances of Jesus to His followers and the final encounter (Lk 24) where He appears and after sharing God’s peace with them proves he had risen and was flesh and blood (a piece of broiled fish sealing the act) and opens to them the Scriptures (the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms). Having done so, He says these words (46-49):

‘This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 
You are witnesses of these things.
I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’

Having said these words, Jesus takes them out into the vicinity of Bethany and He blesses them.

 ‘While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy and they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.’

This is, of course, an account of what we call Ascension Day. Jesus has physically left the earth (which is why some churches extinguish the Paschal candle, which represents Christ, immediately after the Gospel is read on Ascension Day).

Again Jesus is gone and His followers are left ‘waiting for God’.

Not for them the snatching away by death of a teacher, the taking down of a corpse from a cross and with that death, the death of hope, but for them, and us, an expectation that God is going to do something amazing (as if bringing someone back from the dead was amazing enough).

We, like the early followers look to God and wait expectantly for something to happen.

The conundrum that unless He goes `He (Jesus) cannot be with us is about to be solved for God is going to send to them the same Holy Spirit that is God and raised Jesus from the dead and is, dot-for-dot, exactly the same as Jesus (for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one).

No longer will His followers have to be concerned about Jesus being with them working miracles and opening the Scriptures and experiencing the kingdom of God being with them – for on the day of Pentecost Jesus is, in the person of the Holy Spirit within us, opening the Scriptures and enlightening us; healing the sick and proclaiming the fact that where we are so too is God and the Kingdom of God is proclaimed by our very presence.

I pray that each of us will be daily refreshed by His holy and life-giving Spirit as we live in the reality that the wait is over!

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