Last Week of Easter: Making Room for the Spirit

You may have noticed over the last few weeks the readings have been focused on Jesus’ long message to his disciples in the book of John. The readings come from a talk where Jesus is preparing his disciples for his death, and trying to explain to them what life will look like post-resurrection. One of the main ideas he is trying to communicate is the coming of the Holy Spirit.

We read these in the last weeks of Easter as a way to prepare for this coming Sunday: the day of Pentecost. The day of Pentecost marks the day the Spirit is released on the disciples and the world. So we spend a few weeks preparing ourselves and reflecting on the presence of the Spirit.

Jurgen Moltmann in his brilliant book on the Spirit, talks about the Spirit as the breath of God. This breath brings all things into being, holds all things together and works to create new life in beautifully functioning communities. both humans with humans, and humans with the earth. Moltmann points out when we cut ourselves off from these communities, we lose the Spirit and destroy ourselves.

So we pause this week to make room and prepare for the Spirit. And we take the time to see how we are functioning in community?

Am I making more room for people in my life? Is my community expanding? Is the circle of people I am willing to affirm, respect, and love widening? Am I using my resources well?

These questions help us better open ourselves up for the work of the Spirit.

John 17:20-26

“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.

“I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one.  I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.  Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!

“O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.”

Acts 16:16-34

One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a demon-possessed slave girl. She was a fortune-teller who earned a lot of money for her masters.  She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.”

This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And instantly it left her.

Her masters’ hopes of wealth were now shattered, so they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the marketplace. “The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!” they shouted to the city officials. “They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Romans to practice.”

A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape.  So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.

Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!  The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself.  But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!”

The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.  Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household.  Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. He brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God.

Psalm 97

 The Lord is king!
Let the earth rejoice!
Let the farthest coastlands be glad.
 Dark clouds surround him.
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire spreads ahead of him
and burns up all his foes.
His lightning flashes out across the world.
The earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness;
every nation sees his glory.
Those who worship idols are disgraced—
all who brag about their worthless gods—
for every god must bow to him.
Jerusalem has heard and rejoiced,
and all the towns of Judah are glad
because of your justice, O Lord!
For you, O Lord, are supreme over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.

You who love the Lord, hate evil!
He protects the lives of his godly people
and rescues them from the power of the wicked.
Light shines on the godly,
and joy on those whose hearts are right.
May all who are godly rejoice in the Lord
and praise his holy name!

Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21

“Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

Blessed are those who wash their robes. They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life. 

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this message for the churches. I am both the source of David and the heir to his throne. I am the bright morning star.”

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.

He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!”

Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!

May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.

Prayer

Creator God who breaths life into all things,
We praise you for the life you give us.
We ask that you make us aware of your sustaining presence with each breath we take.
We ask that you deepen our ability to love.
Help us to see the beauty and grace of all of your creatures,
particularly your sons and daughters.
Forgive us for the dividing lines we set up.
Forgive us when we try to deny your Spirit in others.
May we make room for your work and activity as we meditate on your Spirit this week.
Amen.

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