Saint for the day: Madeleine Sophie Barat (12/12, 1779 – 5/25/1865)
Acts 19:1-8 – Psalm 68 – John 16:29-33
“The Holy Spirit is the creative power of God’s love.”
With the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord we come to a significant crossroads in our Easter Celebrations. The joy that we’ve been experiencing in these past six weeks all of a sudden leaves us standing on the hill looking up into the sky … and hearing the admonition, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here gazing up into the sky?” And here we thought that Jesus’ triumph over death and the tomb would be our ticket to a life of bliss. Have we forgotten that Jesus said, “Unless I return to the Father the Holy Spirit – the intercessor, the comforter, the creative power of God’s love – will not come to you.” But we miss it sometimes because we’re still standing there looking up into the empty sky.
I’ve often sung in choirs here and there and I’ve sung Mendelssohn’s ELIJAH before. One of the sections tells of Elijah’s search for God in the cave at Mt. Horeb. There was a tempest, an earthquake and a fire. But God was not in these cosmic events. Finally there came a small, still breeze and Elijah stood there as God made himself present.
This kind of “presence” is what enables us to go on. It’s not always drums and fanfare. This “breath of the spirit” – just like the wind – cannot always be seen and we have to be still to sense it. But it’s this gentle spirit that gives us the energy that we need to go out – out of our fears and doubts and become new creatures reborn in the Spirit.
But, just like we hear in today’s scriptures, we are still able to fall short of God’s expectations for us. We’re all like Peter: “Lord! I’ll never leave you!” and we know what happened in the Garden. In a few days we’ll hear of Jesus’ appearance at the lake: “Peter. Do you love me? 3 times!
If we remember anything from the scriptures we should remember this: that all of us will fail and fall short of God’s expectations. Yet he always meets us with His arms outstretched welcoming us back into his love, mercy and forgiveness. Like a still, soft breeze He wipes clean our transgressions and fills us with His grace to keep going. “He is Righteous and Compassionate. Merciful and full of Love! (another of the songs from Mendelssohn’s ELIJAH.)