Sixth Sunday of Easter
O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such
love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Sixth Sunday of Easter BCP 225)
When parents, grandparents, family, and friends hold a newborn child for the first time, there is always an outpouring of undeserved love. The newborn infant hasn't done anything to earn love, but we offer our love for the baby anyway, usually with some other unasked for promises and desires for them. We wish good health and happiness, wisdom and strength, and sometimes things like wealth and a good job on the little ones. None of this is understood by the baby of course, all the baby wants is sleep and food and warm comfort.
Naturally, as we grow up, we learn and grow in understanding, and we can understand all the wishes and desires our families have for us. However, when it comes to God, many times we are still like those newborn infants, not understanding or comprehending the wishes and desires God has for us. God's understanding is so far beyond our own, God's desires for us are so different than our human desires, that trying to understand them is like trying to learn Cyrillic upside down under water. It's confusing and bewildering, and we cling to the few moments of clarity we do have.
Thankfully we can trust that what God desires for our lives comes out of love for us. We know God's desires for us are based in God's unending love for us and God's desire for us to love each other in the same way. We can trust that even when we don't understand, God is speaking to us in love.
Seventh Sunday of Easter
O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen. (Seventh Sunday of Easter: The Sunday after Ascension Day BCP 226)
The gospel stories tell that forty days after Jesus was resurrected, Jesus ascended into heaven. Luke shares two slightly different versions of Jesus' Ascension in the books of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. (Luke 24:50-53, Acts 1:6-11) However, then there are another nine days until Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit. In the medieval church, these nine days were considered preparation days for the coming of the Holy Spirit and special prayers were created for preparation. This is where we get the term Novena, pertaining to nine days of preparation. Later traditions used the idea of a novena for other times of the year as well.
Since yesterday was the feast of the Ascension, we are now in the nine day preparation time at the end of the Easter Season for the coming of the Holy Spirit. In the church today, we commemorate these events in a both/and manner. Given the events actually happened two millennia ago, we have already received the Holy Spirit into our world and in our hearts. So we remember the event and pray for the coming even though we know the Holy Spirit has already come to be with us. However, we also commemorate the coming of the Holy Spirit within us and pray for the renewal and re-invigoration of the Holy Spirit in our lives, so that we may follow where Jesus has gone.
Come Holy Spirit, Come!
See you in church!