|The Day of Pentecost, Year A||May 31, 2020||The Day of Pentecost, Year A||John 20:19-23|
|Easter 7, Year A – Rev. Deacon Carey Connors||May 24, 2020||Seventh Sunday after Easter, Year A||Acts 1:6-14, 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11, John 17:1-11, Psalm 68:1-10, 33-36|
|➤Ascension Day, Year A||May 21, 2020||Ascension Day, Year A||Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:1-14|
|Easter 6, Year A||May 17, 2020||Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year A||Acts 17:22-31, I Peter 3:13-22, John 14:15-21|
|Easter 5, Year A||May 10, 2020||Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C||John 14:1-14|
|Easter 4, Year A||May 3, 2020||Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year A||Acts 2:42-47, John 10:1-10|
|Easter 3, Year A||April 26, 2020||Easter 3, Year A||Psalm 116; I Peter 1:17-23; Luke 24:13-35|
|Easter 2, Year A||April 19, 2020||Easter 2, Year A||John 20:19-31|
|Easter Sunday, Year A||April 12, 2020||Easter Sunday, Year A||Matthew 28:1-10|
|Good Friday, 2020||April 10, 2020||Meditation on the Cross, Good Friday, 2020||John 18:1-19:42|
|Palm Sunday, Year A||April 5, 2020||Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday||Matthew 26:18|
|Lent 5, Year A||March 29, 2020||Fifth Sunday of Lent, Year A 2020||John 11:1-45|
|Lent 4, Year A||March 22, 2020||Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C||Psalm 23|
|Lent 3, Year A at the Cathedral||March 15, 2020||Third Sunday in Lent, Year A||John 4:5-42|
|Lent 2, Year A – March 8, 2020 – the Rev. Deacon Carey Connors||March 8, 2020||Lent 2, Year A||John 3:1-17|
Ascension Day, Year A
Sermon Date:May 21, 2020
Scripture: Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:1-14
Liturgy Calendar: Ascension Day, Year A
The upper room of the Cenacle, traditionally where the Apostles waited for the Holy Ghost. This house was a meeting place for the followers of Jesus inside the city walls of Jerusalem and possibly owned by one of the disciples.
For the time being, the disciples were staying together in the upper room, the eleven of them, plus the women, and also Mary, the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.
No one else had experienced exactly as they had the intimacy of life with Jesus; the time they had spent with him in those three glorious, mind blowing years of ministry in Galilee, the healings, the miracles, the teaching, the touching, the love they had seen unfolding before their eyes, the glimmer of the vision of a new kingdom come on earth growing brighter, each footstep bringing them closer to restoration.
And then Jerusalem, with the cheers of the crowds turned into the violence of “Crucify him!”, Jesus condemned by the high priests of the temple, put to death by the Roman government; and then the disciples’ own fear and fright and then befuddlement when Jesus, the one they loved, came back in his resurrection body, so familiar and yet so strange—back for forty glorious days in which they were with him, hanging on his every word about the kingdom of God, and then the promise that the Holy Spirit would come and baptize them with the power to carry out their mission, which was to continue to make God’s kingdom of love not only visible, but bright and shining in this world.
After the Holy Spirit came, as Jesus had promised, the crowds would flock to hear Peter preach and thousands would be baptized. The disciples themselves would be scattered to the winds, planting gospel seeds that grew up into the Church. According to tradition, some died martyr’s deaths. Many of them died in far off lands, after bringing the life giving Word to the people in those places.
But the work they would do through the power of the Holy Spirit was still in the future, a future they could not even imagine.
So for now, they waited together, either in the upper room where they were staying, and going to the temple to bless God together.
I’m sure that they often talked about their last moments with Jesus—the walk to Bethany must have brought back so many memories of their walks with him throughout his ministry. They must have talked about his promise of the Holy Spirit.
They must have talked about that final blessing– how like Jesus, that as he was lifted up into heaven, that the last thing he did while still visible to them was to bless them. They must have talked about being blessed with such a benediction of love, reassurance and hope that they had worshiped, right there on the spot.
They must have talked about how they had worshiped him. I bet they stood there with their arms lifted up and out, with wild cries on their lips, astounded joy filling them—because they saw for themselves that everything Jesus had told them was true—the he was God’s Son, now returning to God, and blessing them in his going. Leaving, and yet leaving such love with them that they knew that he was still with them after all.
They must have kept recalling how they went back to Jerusalem with that great joy still welling up in them.
The last verse in the gospel according to Luke ends with these words—“And they were continually in the temple blessing God.” What a fitting end to what has been called “the greatest story ever told.” But this ending is no ending at all, but only a pause, a waiting for what is next.
Luke’s gospel leaves the reader wanting more.
What happens next?
Luke wrote the book that we know as the Acts of the Apostles to answer that question.
Like any good storyteller, Luke backs up a little, to catch those up who might not have read the gospel—giving the brief summary of Jesus’ life, ministry, suffering, death and resurrection. Then Luke tells again about Jesus being carried up into heaven. In Acts we learn that the disciples went back to Jerusalem, to the upper room to wait for the Holy Spirit devoting themselves to prayer, safe there with one another.
Tonight we wait in our own upper rooms.
Jesus knows us each by name. Jesus chose each one of us to be here, in this group of his disciples. Jesus has blessed us by putting us here together to wait.
This year the upper room and the waiting resonate deeply because of the situation in which we find ourselves. Waiting—waiting not only for the pandemic to end, but also waiting to see how we, the disciples, will be changed, how the church will be changed, and how the Holy Spirit will pour into and empower us for whatever is ahead.
So tonight, as we celebrate Jesus being taken into heaven, blessing us and leaving us with a promise,
I hope that joy will fill our hearts and that our joy will pour out into our continual praise and blessing of God together. I hope that we will devote ourselves to prayer together in these days before Pentecost.
I hope that our waiting will be full of expectation for what God will be doing through the power of the Holy Spirit here at St Peter’s, here in our homes, and here in our hearts.
Because God has promised the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is always coming to us, sometimes as gentle as the breath of a sleeping child, sometimes as wild as the wind of a hurricane, sometimes as the light of dawn illuminating the path ahead, sometimes in the darkness of suffering—the Holy Spirit blows where it will, but Jesus has promised that the Holy Spirit will continue to fill us with breath and life.
The Holy Spirit is never static. The Holy Spirit is always at work.
So while we wait, we pray for the Holy Spirit to come even now and to work through us. We pray for God’s kingdom to come on this earth. We pray for people who do not know the blessing of Jesus to open their hearts and receive that blessing. And in the praying, we bless those for whom we pray, as Jesus continues to bless us.
God has got a new adventure in store for us. God will give us an adventure that we will embrace knowing that the Holy Spirit will fill us with the power to do infinitely more than we could ever ask or even imagine. Jesus will bless the adventure and lead us every step of the way.
But for now we, gathered together as One Body of Love, wait prayerfully with patient joy, glad of one another’s company, resting in God’s almighty hands of love, as Bishop Curry loves to say, while we wait to be empowered and sent out once more to spread the seed of the Word to the ends of the earth.