Homily preached by
Br. Andrew at Springwood on Sunday 24th May 2015:
Last Sunday after Easter, Pentecost otherwise known as Whitsunday, also Shavuot
John 16:16 ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me.’
Today is the last Sunday of Easter, also called Whitsunday, a feast of the universal Church dating from the first century. Whitsunday is so called from the white garments which were worn by those who were baptised during the vigil; Pentecost, ("Pfingsten" in German), is the Greek for "the fiftieth" (day after Easter). We read in the seventh of the (interpolated) fragments attributed to St. Irenæus that Whitsunday was celebrated during apostolic times.
Pentecost is the Greek word for Shavuot and commemorates the anniversary of the day God handed the Torah to the nation of Israel assembled at Sinai.
This year Passover fell on Good Friday and the omer began to be counted on Easter Sunday, the 16th of Nissan, hence Shavuot coincides with Whitsunday/ Christian Pentecost.
Shavuot is understood to express anticipation and desire for the giving of the Torah.
So it was that the Apostles and the other 108 waited in anticipation and desire for what Jesus had promised them. Jesus was the fulfilment of the Law, and he had gone to the Father so that He, Jesus could send another Advocate to them.
Things were never ever going to be the same again as that rushing wind and tongues of fire augured. The Holy Spirit filled that house much I imagine like a moderate cyclone in my hometown might have done had we given it half a chance, the flaming tongue reversed the confusion of Babel so that everyone present in Jerusalem that day received witness by the disciples in their own languages. Look who was there! People from Northeast Iran, from the entire Arabian Peninsula, Syria, Armenia, Iraq, those from the future Byzantine Empire i.e. many of the Cities and provinces to whom Paul later wrote; Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and converts, and some from the Isle of Crete. On this very day 3000 were added to their ranks and naturally, after being strengthened in the Spirit and the Gospel, those who didn’t live in Jerusalem took the Good News back to those places I have just mentioned.
What kept the Apostles here, partly the importance of Shavuot more importantly to see the fulfilment of Jesus’ words to them to stay there in the city until they had been clothed with power from on high.’ but not until Jesus had felt that the appointed time for higher teachings had come did they begin to understand they had a higher purpose. But not the Apostles only, 108 other believers were there awaiting the Advocate.
Jesus was leaving them, the Advocate was coming, Jesus would send this One once he was with the Father, and because he was going to the Father they would see Him no longer – and yet in a little while they would see Him????
When the Spirit came they would see Jesus again!
John’s Gospel is more mysterious and enigmatic than the synoptics – the other three, in John’s Gospel it almost seems as though Jesus spoke in higher parables to his disciples and without a written explanation. Yet in the part of that Gospel we didn’t read today Jesus admits to having spoken to them in riddles with the promise to speak plainly so that they will understand. Thank heavens He did because now, so do we.
Jesus must leave before the Spirit could come into this world when there will be a unified oneness (Hebrew “hen” Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29) between these three Persons in the One God, such as if Jesus had never gone away at all. This is what Jesus prayed to his father “As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” John 17:21b NRSV
Again – it is the Spirit which brings every Christian into this unified oneness, in the body of Christ this “hen”.
That same spirit, that Holy Spirit the Ruacḥ Haqodesh comes upon believers today to fill us with all power, if we will claim this power and use whatever gifts we are given, of Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Courage, Knowledge, Reverence, Fear of the Lord ( Wonder and Awe).
Our reading in Romans tells us that the non- human, even the non-sentient world is eagerly waiting for Humanity to come of age and to achieve our mission to raise the earth to its former glory as it was before the Fall. To come of age – to grasp with both hands the unified oneness that is ours for the taking and to redeem the face of this earth.
We are called to be like God and through the hen, of the Body of Christ, to be in Him as He is in us. And to draw strength from each other to carry out the great Commission.
The ruler of this world has already been judged we just need to keep on to renew the fractured church and our environment over-exposed to the excess and greed of God’s weakest creatures.
Let’s see whether each one of us can find one thing to do this week to help this process move along.
Even when we do not know how or what to pray for God invokes our prayers through Unified Oneness with the Spirit who then prays for us.( Romans 8:27 NRSV)