Saturday, May 27, 2017

“I Pray for Them” by Jim Bayne

(Note:  Although the Feast of the Ascension was actually on Thursday, the Church now celebrates this event on the following Sunday.  The readings for Ascension were covered in Thursday’s tripod.  Today, we pick up the story with the disciples returning to the upper room in Jerusalem right after Jesus ascended into heaven)

Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. (Acts 1:13-14)

Rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly. (1 Peter 4:13)

"I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world.  They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me. I pray for them. (John 17:6-9)

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life's refuge; of whom should I be afraid?

One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek:
to dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,

Imagine what it must have been like for the disciples. They have spent the 40 days since Jesus appeared to them on Easter Sunday afternoon waiting to see what comes next. Jesus appeared to them on a number of occasions, even sharing meals with them, but then told them to go back to Jerusalem and wait some more. 

Even though Jesus has risen from the dead and appeared to them numerous times, he is now gone. What now? Perhaps there is no greater fear than the fear of the unknown. They have not yet reached the point where they can “Rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ.” Right now they just fear they might suffer as Christ did.

How often in these current days do we live in fear of the unknown? What’s coming next? What will be the next great crisis in our neighborhood, our city, our state, our country, in the world? We just experienced another horrible act of terrorism in England. Are we next?

Unlike those first disciples, we have two millennia of experience under our belts. We have seen God work wonders in our world time and time again. We can trust our God to continue to teach us, be with us, and turn even the worst of times into the best of times. Consider these words from Richard Rohr’s book, Everything Belongs: 
God is to be found in all things, even and most especially in the painful, tragic and sinful things, exactly where we do not want to look for God. The crucifixion of the God-Man is at the same moment the worst thing in human history and the best thing in human history.

As we await the Holy Spirit’s arrival on Pentecost, let us continue to pray and wait patiently. 

As we pray and wait, let us reach out to those who are living in fear and reassure them that in the words of Julian of Norwich, “All will be well and all will be well and every kind of thing shall be well.”  Remember the words of Jesus: I pray for them.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart. (Proverbs 3:5) 

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