This is an odd Sunday.
On Thursday, 40 days after the Resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven.
As seen on Facebook, “this is the day that Jesus begun working from home”.
And yet, the promised Holy Spirit has not arrived.
The disciples return to behind closed doors, similar to the in-between of Jesus’ death and resurrection, but without the fear.
The extended circle of disciples are spending their time in prayer.
I imagine with each day, these disciples are becoming impatient with a growing sense of being orphaned or abandoned for forever.
But, I have been pondering if this odd Sunday is oddly similar to our current situation.
- We are encouraged to work from our homes as able.
- We are encouraged to continue social distance, social isolation, and quarantine as able.
- We are becoming more impatient as it continues, especially with improving weather and a long weekend.
- We may be emotionally and/or spiritually restless, growing in a sense of being abandoned.
Arguably the disciples are praying for the Holy Spirit to come.
But, which Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is a paradoxical ‘person’ of the Holy Trinity.
The Holy Spirit is the gentle source of comfort and consolation.
She is described as coming down from the heavens like a dove and resting upon Jesus at his baptism.
The Holy Spirit is the motor that drives all forward, esp. for the author of Luke-Acts. She is described as the force that drives Jesus from his baptism into the wilderness to be tempted.
The Holy Spirit is the wild, uncontrollable source of inspiration and action.
She is described as a violent wind and fire poured out upon all flesh, resulting in prophesy and action.
If I was to place my bets, it would be on the Holy Spirit of comfort to console them in their grief without stirring them from their own comfort and ‘normal’.
We, humans, are critters of habit because those habits provide a comforting normal.
In our Gospel, Jesus speaks his high priestly prayer that asks for the disciples to be united in the world. Perhaps, the disciples envisioned that unity would be through the Holy Spirt of comfort that gently nudges them closer in mind and spirit, purpose and mission, and public ministry.
But, Jesus also noted that he was praying for the disciples alone and not the world. Although one colleague shared commentary suggesting that Jesus sending the disciples into the world was indeed, indirectly, praying for the world through them. However, that would perhaps not be faithful to the Gospel of John. The Gospel of John depicts a hostile relationship between the disciples, or faithful, and the world paired with anti-semantic themes.
Thus, I struggle with the high priestly prayer and those over-arching themes in John. The struggle is rooted in my ecumenical and inter-faith spirit, my religion nerdiness, and understanding of our Lutheran theology.
Our rebel cry in the Protestant Reformation was ‘Saved by Grace Alone’.
Thankfully for our sake, God’s grace is beyond our comprehension.
And thus, I cannot be certain how God’s grace is at work within the lives of all people, of all places and all times.
And therefore, I cannot limit God’s grace with any certainty.
And therefore, I am uncomfortable with any effort to limit God’s grace.
Besides, lets return to our Acts Scripture of the Ascension for a moment.
Jesus sends the disciples to their hiding spot in Jerusalem to await the Holy Spirit, but then instructs the disciples to go forth into Judea and Samaria and further and further in a ripple effect until the ends of the earth. Perhaps, that statement suggest the Holy Spirit as a driving force, if not the uncontrolled force of inspiration that not-so-gently pushes us into action beyond our comfort zones.
So, as we continue to be in our time of isolation behind closed doors…
- May we ponder the grace of God that is beyond our comprehension.
- May we reflect said grace into all of the world without a hostile relationship.
- May we continually pray for the Holy Spirit to come…
but which Holy Spirit are YOU praying for?
… the source of comfort and consolation?
… the motor that drives us forward?
… the source of inspiration and action
Come, Holy Spirit, Come!