THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK – We Are One 24th May 2020
When reading the lectionary for today I could not help but find comparisons between our upturned world and the one those original disciples found themselves in and the difficult journey that they have also endured in recent weeks. What wild swings of emotion they have had to deal with too! Firstly, all the horrors of Good Friday, with the anguish they felt for Jesus and themselves, the guilt over what they had done or didn’t do, the confusion about their future and even worse, contemplating that perhaps Jesus’ mission had somehow failed. Then they hear rumours that He lives, has defeated death and now perhaps they begin to experience feelings of hope or could it be terror whilst having to rationalise the sheer perplexity of this even being possible. Once they begin to get their heads around that lot, which they somehow manage to do, a sense of normality seems to settle upon them, not the normality they once knew but an even better one, albeit temporary, because Jesus now walks with them and them alone, they have Him all to themselves, how lovely and how safe that must have felt. However, the normality they crave is not the one they are destined to have, because once again He is going to leave them and nothing will ever again be ‘normal’ as they once had known it to be, are you picking up some emotional similarities here? We had something we cherished but lost it, we want it back again but it can’t be the same, when we do get it back how long before we may lose it once again? So just how do we begin to get our heads and hearts around what has happened to us in the here and now?
Well maybe we can get some inspiration from those early disciples as we too find ourselves in a bit of a lull, a period of time between the Ascension and the fast approaching Pentecost. The disciples, now all alone, trudge back to Jerusalem and isolate themselves in the upper room to wait for whatever it is that is coming and the sheer flatness of description for this moment, written within Acts, is strikingly stark to say the least! We hear nothing of their emotions, no fear, no joy, no sense of what the mood is right now. Perhaps they are just simply tired out, drained of all emotion, resigned to accept whatever it is that Jesus has planned for them, it’s just a waiting game now. One minute it is all the highs of the inner circle and the plans for the new Kingdom of Israel, the next they are leaderless, without purpose and in lockdown again, whatever this Holy Spirit is that has been promised, well it had better be something special when it arrives to get this emotionally drained bunch of waifs and strays going again!
You do get the sense though that this time around they had learned something useful about themselves, something that perhaps wasn’t there before. The first is that they have learned to stick together, whatever it is that is in store for them they want to witness it together and the second thing is to keep praying. Perhaps, they themselves did not recognise the significance of these two lessons learned but sticking together and praying are to become two of the most significant characteristics of the new Christian community, that Acts is just about to record and are of course to become the fundamental characteristics of our own Christian identity today, unity and prayer. These Disciples are in this thing together and praying keeps them both focussed and unified, they are for now as one.
We should never underestimate the power of prayer as a means of healing and restoring, both for others and importantly for ourselves, 1 Peter tells us “cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” and remember what Julie told us two weeks ago in her thought for the week, Jesus said “go into your room and pray to your father in secret and your father, who sees in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:6). In other words we can pray wherever and whenever the moment takes us and it’s not about fanciful words or pious ritual, just tell Him how you are feeling, for He is always listening. In that moment that you do pray, you will, just like the Disciples, have Jesus all to yourself. This might feel a bit of a ‘stand-alone’ approach to dealing with our issues before God but of course that is where the unity of our faith energises our prayer, especially as we cannot at this time meet to pray together, but 1 Peter again reminds us “be steadfast in your faith for you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering” very poignant I think and coming from a simple fisherman, what a global thinker he was for his time or perhaps we are simply witness to the work of the Holy Spirit in all its glory!
We are one, we are unified, because we all believe and share in one God, we are never alone because we can pray and when we pray, there we can find love, comfort and hope.
A prayer for ourselves and each other but remember to just have that chat from the heart too!
watch over me,
Draw us all closer to you
that we may then draw closer to each other
and through your love, word and our prayer
together as one.