Sunday 24th May 2020
7th Sunday of Easter

Acts 1:6-14, 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11, John 17:1-11, Psalm 68:1-10, 33-36

The resounding theme of these readings is one of power and dependence. The Early Believers looked to Jesus to restore the political kingdom of Israel; Psalm 68 may contain images of triumphalism, yet its overarching point is that we should look to God, not earthly power for security and strength - it is more of a call to trust God than to seek revenge. This theme echoes through the epistle reading as the Early Believers are invited to trust God in the midst of struggle and persecution. Although the thrust of the Gospel reading is of church unity, it is a prayer which is uttered in the shadow of the cross - through submission and self-sacrifice, God's name is glorified.

This might lead us to reflect and pray for a world in which many are seeking to exert authority and overcome enemies, perceived and real. Many parts of our world are in situations of strife and civil war so we might pray for politicians, peacekeepers, diplomats and rulers. We might also pray for journalists, medics and other civilian occupations through which individuals find themselves caught up in such strife.

The situations in which God might be revealed and glorified are diverse and these readings touch opposite extremes. The Psalm anticipates that God will be revealed through the scattering of His enemies while Christ prepares to glorify God through submission to them. The death of Jesus is initiated by enemies who would no doubt have described themselves in the language of Psalm 68 as those to whom God gives strength and power (v36). So we are reminded that in every walk of life, we cannot simply take our identity for granted, but are called to deliberately seek to glorify God. And if God can both be glorified in scattering and submission to His enemies, then there is no sphere of daily life in which we might not seek to glorify Him.

The Acts reading also looks back to Ascension Day celebrated on the preceding Thursday. The three days before are Rogationtide. This ancient season is one when the Church would pray God's blessing on the crops, livelihoods and working lives of its community. ICF seeks to mark this today through Take Your Minister to Work Day. Even if you didn't manage a workplace visit, this affords the opportunity to pray God's blessing on the working lives of today's congregations.