Sunday, June 12, 2011

Not left as orphans

Sometimes my mind wanders, and I start to wonder exactly what it must have been like on the Saturday after Jesus was crucified.  Some pretty weird stuff had accompanied his death.  I imagine many people in the vicinity of Jerusalem were a bit shaken up.  But for Jesus' disciples, there must have been devastating sadness: their Master has been taken away (as had been predicted of him, if only they could have seen it).  No wonder that when Jesus appeared on the Sunday they disbelieved for joy.  But again, this is only what he had told them.  His resurrection showed that he had gone victoriously through death and had returned to proclaim his triumph - first of all to the disciples, but through them to the whole world.

Jesus came back to us.

I also sometimes wonder what it must have been like after Jesus ascended into heaven.  I wonder whether some of the disciples weren't tempted to question whether perhaps everything would just go back to being the way it was.  Perhaps the death and resurrection of Jesus were important events, but not world changing events.  Maybe they had some sort of deep significance, but they were ultimately one off things that could not be expected to have an effect on the whole of their own lives, let alone the lives of people who were geographically and historically distant.  Then Pentecost came.  The Spirit was poured out.  The resurrection of Jesus was not a distant event; it was here, now, changing everything.  We are still essentially in that situation - in need of the Spirit to come to us, to make it all not only true but real.  And as we wait, he comes, and we rise up.

Jesus comes back to us.

And of course, the story is running on towards it conclusion.  There is a slow train coming, up and round the bend.  Even as the Holy Spirit makes Jesus present to us now, we feel all the more acutely his absence.  As we gather in his name to worship, we see more clearly all the opposing names that are still raised against him.  As we rejoice in what he has done to liberate us, we experience more deeply the grief of the ongoing slavery in the world.  As we are thankful for our salvation, we acknowledge again and again our ongoing sin.  But we know that it will come to an end.

Jesus will come back to us.

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