Vicar Mollie Hamre
The Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year A
Texts: Acts 1:6-14, Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35, 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11, John 17:1-11
Beloved in Christ, grace and peace to you in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Dropping my husband off at the airport is always a challenge.
As someone who has terrible flying anxiety and who has a spouse that flies frequently for work, you might be able to imagine why sending your spouse on a plane could be nerve racking. By the time we get to the airport, my heart is pounding, I am anxious and dreading the drive back alone, knowing he will not be in the car with me anymore. It is a quiet time I usually dread because I am transitioning into a week on my own.
For our readings today, the men and women in Acts that follow Jesus are in a similar situation, except the person they are missing is the Messiah and it is long term. The person who has been their guide and walked alongside them. He is gone and they are living in a space where they do not know what the future holds.
Alongside them, Jesus is mirroring this sense of absence in the Gospel.
We find him as he is praying to God, in front of his women and men followers knowing he will be leaving his people soon. I can’t help, but wonder what that felt like for Jesus.
These people that have been his family surrounding him–he has to let go, trust he has done what he can, and know his followers can take it from there. Everything we have been talking about the past seven weeks of Easter.
Jesus states all of this in his prayer with hope that his disciples might find eternal life through knowing God in their present moment. That in being present in their world they see that they are surrounded by community, loved, and hear the dreams that Jesus has for them.
Hearing this intimate prayer between Jesus and God is crucial for the days ahead so that everyone knows Christ’s presence, even when he is physically gone.
But this must have been strange for the men and women in ancient times.
What’s coming Jesus? No longer in the world? Protect us from what? I imagine a build of anticipation, with confusion and disorientation. Jesus who they have experienced the whirlwind of death, resurrection, and ascension is now physically gone. These men and women are looking in the unknown. Living where we are–in the days between. The time between Jesus ascending and his followers not knowing what is coming next.
What are we supposed to do now?
These views comparing the reading from Acts and Gospel are important to hear as we live in that in between time.
We experience these liminal spaces often whether it be before a big trip, when closing a chapter of our lives, or whenever we enter into any place uncharted. We live in a world of unknowns and as much as we try to predict, anticipate, and listen–we are like the people in Jesus’ day. Waiting in the in between, unsure, and praying for God to guide as we search for what is next.
For the women and men in Acts, this time meant gathering in a prayerful community with a sense of anticipating that God might be doing something new within and through them. They lived into the space of tension, and at some point, had to trust that God would be with them in it.
But living into the moment is not that easy.
It asks us to release control, to reground ourselves in the moment, and to be present in that tension alongside Jesus as we live in the transitioning spaces of our lives. Change and the unknown are difficult to live into. It comes with big emotions of excitement, anxiety, stress and scariness that can all exist together. And yet, Jesus calls us back to the community and his prayer, telling us that Jesus, God with us, prays for us, journeys alongside us, and is within us. All of these lessons we have been learning throughout the season of Easter come to life.
Jesus tells us that we are God’s creation and hopes that we will embrace what that means–eternal life. Eternal life is not something far off in the distance but what unites us with the Triune God back into the present. Embracing it and letting it bring you back into this moment with God and with the community.
I think I will always have anxiety when dropping my husband off at the airport.
And that is okay. I know I do not have control of the pilot, or the weather, or the outcome of the trip. But at some point as I live in that transitioning space, I find myself praying. I feel a shift inside of me and I realize I have to let go. I have to trust God will care for my husband, keep him protected, and bring him home from his trips. I find myself trusting that my husband knows how to navigate his trip, that the pilot knows how to fly, and that God carries all the intricate pieces in between.
And in that moment, that prayer changes me. It focuses me back into the present. It reminds me I am not alone.
The Triune God is found within those moments, within you, within the community. Even though Christ is no longer in the world and we anticipate what is to come, we trust that God moves us, changes us, and renews us as we boldly enter into our futures.
What do you hear in these moments of anticipation?
In the name of the Father, and of the ☩ Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.