Reflection: Sunday 17th May 2020 - Fiona Wingate
Acts 17: 22 – 31 Ps 66: 7 – 18
1 Peter 3:13 – 22 John 14: 15 - 21
As some of you will know I am an electrical engineer, so making connections for power to flow from power stations to our homes is part of my job.
But it’s not just at work. I find myself looking for connections in most things like the lectionary readings for any given day. What might these passages have to offer us – how might they be connected?
Our reading from Acts tells of Paul addressing the Athenians about their “unknown god”. Paul tells how God creates humanity and gives it order. We’re told we “should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him. Yet, he is not far from each one of us, for “In him we live and move and have our being”.
In these times of isolation, we can feel alone perhaps forgotten. Do we yearn for something? Is that God? And yet he is here with us. We are not alone; He is near if we seek him.
Ps 66 begins with a wonderful song of praise, but goes on to tell how the people suffer and struggle: “You have tested us, you have tried us as silver is tried. You have brought us into the net, you have laid burdens on our backs”.
This might be a sense we can relate to. These times are challenging and we can also feel tried and burdened. But the psalmist asserts that “I will come into your house…. I will pay you my vows…..I will make an offering”. This speaks to me of hope – hope in the future. In that time when we will be able to worship God in his house again - to lament, to praise and give thanks. I’m encouraged to know that our situation is not unique in the history of God’s people. We will return and we can be confident because “God has listened, he has given heed to the words of my prayer”(V19).
The Revised Standard Version gives the reading in 1 Peter the heading, “Suffering injustice and the example of Christ”. This reminds me again that while we may feel we suffer in our present situation – we are not alone if we have Christ in our lives. Christ knows what it is to suffer. His example which can be tough, does shine a light for us to follow. Peter encourages us today to keep faith and to remember that we are a special, holy people. A reminder that God is with us, we are not alone, we do not suffer alone and that the risen Christ walks with us every step of the way.
Finally, our gospel passage. John recounts the moment when Jesus tells the disciples that he will ask the Father to send another Advocate/Counsellor/Paraclete to be with them in spirit forever. Jesus reminds the disciples that if they love him, they will follow his commandments; and that he will be in them. This passage offers us great hope on so many levels – Jesus won’t desert us, he won’t leave us desolate. The Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Truth) will come and live within us and be our guide, our counsellor, the one who is called to be alongside us through life’s journey. Again we hear – you are not alone, I am with you, you are mine.
So, what of those connections? Through the ages God’s message has been the same – I am here, you are not alone, I am with you. It was true for the psalmist of the Old Testament, for the disciples and apostles of the early church and it remains true for us, the disciples of today. Take heart, we will once again come into God’s house and worship together but for now we must love Jesus by following his commandments in the knowledge that He is with us.