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SUNDAY SCRIPTURES FOR MAY 13 | Trust in the promises of Jesus

Like the disciples at the Ascension, we don’t know God‘s plan, but He asks us to remain faithful and build the kingdom

On this feast of the Ascension of the Lord, we commemorate an incredible transition in the life of the early Church and an almost impossible invitation to trust on the part of the early disciples. Jesus Christ had lived, died and risen from the dead. In all those transitions, His disciples were confused. At some point, they thought they understood the plan, but then they had to adjust when things didn’t go that way.

In the midst of their confusion, Jesus reminded them of the truth He had told them and the promises He had made. Even though they didn’t understand, He challenged them to trust Him. Today, we have the privilege of 2,000 years of theological reflection on these events and the wisdom passed on to us. Imagine what it was like as those disciples watched Him depart from earth and had to make a decision whether or not to trust Him.

Some of them returned to their former way of life, while others locked themselves in rooms because of fear. Many of them, like us, wanted more information, assurance and to see the fulfillment of the kingdom of God. It didn’t happen in their lifetime, and so far, it hasn’t happened in ours.

Even though we would love to know the day and time of the fulfillment, Jesus basically told us it’s none of our business. God is the one with the master plan, the one who created heaven and earth. God is the one whose promises we stand on and whose way we follow as Jesus taught us. Even today, we are asked for a huge step of trust. We are told to go out to the whole world and spread the Good News. We are told that the power of God’s spirit that raised Jesus from the dead resides in each of us. We are told that He is preparing a place for us, and our job is to build up the kingdom of God here and now. The most important question is: Do we trust His promises?

Transitions — mostly small ones — happen every day of our lives. Each of those transitions is meant to be a practice for larger life changes. Most of us don’t like changes, and we often rebel against them. Change challenges the assumption that we are powerful people. Somehow, God wants us to know that we are not as powerful as we think we are. Are we willing to trust the power of God over our ability to control? Can we allow ourselves to live securely without the absolute evidence of fulfillment? Can we practice the small transitions of life as if they were a gift rather than an intrusion?

Please remember that this Easter season is meant to lead us to Pentecost. This is a time of preparation for the unleashing of the Holy Spirit in a way that we can’t even imagine. That can’t really happen unless we have practiced letting go and releasing our need to control everything. Like the first disciples, we have locked ourselves in our own little rooms out of fear. We mostly hang around with people who agree with us. We foster division with people who are different. We think we understand God’s mind and heart, but we often fail to see Him working in the strangest and most unusual places.

Are we ready for Pentecost? Have we allowed ourselves to trust the promises of God more than our own control and understanding? What have we done during this Easter season to stretch ourselves beyond our understanding of God and let ourselves be surprised by His ways in our life and in the world? This is the work of our Easter season. This will be the work that allows the Spirit to set us on fire and go into the world to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Father Donald Wester is pastor of All Saints Parish in St. Peters.

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