Sunday after Ascension 02 June 2019 A.D.Holy Communion

 Sunday after Ascension     Holy Communion              02 June 2019 A.D. 

The Epistle: 1 Peter 4:7-11                            The Gospel: John 15:26-16:4a

                                        O GOD, the King of glory, who hast exalted thine only Son Jesus                                               Christ with great triumph unto thy kingdom in heaven; We beseech                                          thee, leave us not comfortless; but send to us thine Holy Ghost to                                          comfort us, and exalt us unto the same place whither our Saviour                                           Christ is gone before, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the                                          Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
1 Peter 4:7-11
 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.  Use hospitality one to another without grudging.  As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.  If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

John 15:26-16:4a
 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:  And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.
These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.  They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.  And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.

Let us look at the Gospel selection first from John 15.  Jesus told his disciples to go wait in Jerusalem, they were to wait for the Comforter, (the Holy Spirit)to come. Jesus taught these lesson several times during his earthly ministry. He emphasized the need to wait upon the Father, it was His timing not theirs. The same is true with us... we need to think about  God’s timing, not ours. So many times we want to schedule the work of the Lord by our “busy” timetable.  If you want to be frustrated, try to push forward something on your time schedule and seek what happens.
   If you look at the time and place of the first Advent of Christ we can see God’s timing is perfect. We’d want to push things along, try to get things done before everything was prepared.
  When Christ came to earth as a little baby there were several historic concepts and events in place by then, many were crucial to the ministry of the Lord and the eventual spreading of that ministry throughout the known world. 
   The following is what I mean; a mostly unified empire (Rome), a common language, koine Greek, a road system and fairly safe maritime trading system in place, trading systems including standard weights and measures, common coinage, all this would contribute to the fairly rapid distribution of the Christian faith .
   In about a hundred years after Christ’s ascension {33 A.D.}, Christianity is known and being practiced in all corners of the Roman Empire, from Palmyra, modern Syria/Iraq, in the east to Hadrian’s Wall in the north of Anglia, today’s modern United Kingdom. That is pretty impressive, that spreading of the Gospel was possible due to the above listed developments of the Roman Empire. 
     Now back to Jerusalem, in the days before the Comforter comes to testify of Jesus, the disciples are waiting. They are communing together, they are most likely discussing the next move that they should take. The older men were likely counseling patience, the younger disciples were probably wanting to do something. 
   They were told to wait. Great things are about to happen. 
    As we continue to contemplate these two passages of scripture today try to think of a group of people preparing for a great journey.  Now the disciples didn’t have a complete idea of what this journey would be, they didn’t realize the sacrifices, the hardships, the depredations they would suffer on this life-changing journey; but they went back to Jerusalem to wait and prepare.
   In this spirit of preparation we can look at St. Peter’s first epistle for some advice.
  In the first letter of St. Peter he reminds the believers to be charitable. Be prayerful, be watchful, be hospitable to each other. 
  The second concept Peter writes of is the use of gifts. As everyone has been given gifts, we are to use them to minister to each other. Why ? Because we are to be good stewards of the talents  God has given us.  We tend to focus on self, we don’t generally want to do good by others. It is a human condition. But because we are God’s own, he expects us to use these gifts to glorify him.
‘...that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen....’

    You might look at this period of time between Christ’s Ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit as the “calm before the storm”.  We have the disciples staying in Jerusalem, the others who followed Jesus possibly taking stock as what to do next. And yet all were most likely waiting with anticipation, not knowing exactly what was to come. 
  Some Bible commentators and theologians liken this time as the pre-church age. That with the coming of the Holy Spirit in a few days, the church, that group of believers, would be certified as the ongoing instrument of mission that Jesus instituted during his earthly ministry. 
   Suffice it to say, there would be a great change in the nature, attitude and mission thrust of the disciples and those who they trained in the coming years. The events that Jesus foretold in our Gospel passage would come to be. Not only would the disciple be thrown out of synagogues, they would be persecuted, many would face death at the hands of Jewish and Roman authorities.  There were great changes that would be manifest in the life of the early church.
    Do you think you would be up to the task ?  It is hard to say, in our relative comfort of the mostly calm United States. It isn’t so with our brethren overseas. Our AOC parishes in Pakistan, India, parts of Africa, the South Sea Isles and the Philippines all face daily challenges and even death. A believer may go to church on Sunday and not come home after the service because of a suicide bombing or drive by shooting.  It is getting more intense for believers especially on the Sub-Continent, as more and more militant groups gain power, not only the Islamist elements, but even militant Hindu and Buddhist groups too. All seemingly hell-bent on attacking their common enemy: Christians and the Cross, that is “foolishness to them that perish”. 
Let us pray for our fellow believers and those of the worldwide communion of the Anglican Orthodox Church. 

Let us pray:

      O God, merciful and compassionate, who art ever ready to hear the prayers of those who put their trust in thee; Graciously hearken to us who call upon thee, and grant us thy help in this our need; through Jesus Christ our Lord.   Amen 

O GOD, merciful Father, who despisest not the sighing of a contrite heart, nor the desire of such as are sorrowful; Mercifully assist our prayers which we make before thee in all our troubles and adversities, whensoever they oppress us; and graciously hear us, that those evils which the craft and subtlety of the devil or man worketh against us, may, by thy good providence, be brought to nought; that we thy servants, being hurt by no persecutions, may evermore give thanks unto thee in thy holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

LIGHTEN our darkness, we beseech Thee, O Lord; and by Thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of Thy only Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

GIVE us light in the night season, we beseech Thee, O Lord, and grant that our rest may be without sin, and our waking to Thy service; that we may come in peace and safety to the waking of the great day; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

THE grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore. Amen.