Call to worship
After Jesus’ ascension, Mary and the Apostles gathered to pray and to find strength together. We come here today for similar reasons — to receive Jesus’ blessing as a Church and to seek the power of God’s Spirit.
- To the point: The Gospel is about mutual giving between Jesus and the Father, and our being called into the same life of self-giving. We are to give ourselves to God and one another in live and service. In this is God’s glory and ours.
- Connecting the Gospel (John 17: 1-11a) to the second reading: This Sunday we are reminded that glory comes to us only through our sharing “in the sufferings of Christ.”
- Connecting the Gospel to experience: Tired of always reported bad news, a national news center asked viewers to share stories of good news. Reports of deeds of extraordinary Gospel self-giving is more abundant and evident than we sometimes think. God’s glory abounds.
Today’s tender story from the Acts of the Apostles recounts the Holy Spirit’s working in the early Church.
After his disciples the watched Jesus ascend, they returned to Jerusalem to pray. With Mary, they gathered in the “upper room” — the place of fear and hiding which eventually became their place of faith and finding. They were together — Peter, who denied him, Mary who remained faithful, Thomas who doubted, the two who wished to sit at Jesus’ right and left, Phillip who could not understand a future without Jesus. This was the painful, faith-filled, tender first conclave of the church, waiting for the Spirit to breathe them out into the waiting world. And this last appearance of Mary is a striking final picture of her as a member of the believing community engaged in prayerful waiting.
The gospel is a retrospect in time also in the “upper room” on the night of Jesus betrayal and arrest. Jesus is praying for his followers to remain holy through the suffering they will endure when he is no longer in that same world with them.
Likewise, we are here today, modern disciples, gathered in our own room of prayer. We are also full of doubts and ambitions, conscious of our betrayals and inspired by the faithfulness of Mary and others around us. We come to receive Jesus’ blessing and to wait in expectation for God’s Spirit. We are also in the same short space of time that separates Resurrection, exaltation, and the coming of God’s Spirit. We observe this significant pause between God’s actions in our lives by waiting and praying as a church.
John 17: 1-11a
“And behold, I am with you all days till the end of the age.”
Jesus, when you ascended,
you took all your (and our) humanity
into the fullness of the divine being.
All is holy now. We belong to you.
We ask you to give us the “new ways of
thinking, acting, living, loving, and being.
A new way of being human.” *
Please. We need your love,
knowledge, and your wisdom.
Be with us all days.
Let your Spirit never leave us alone.
* Albert Einstein
The First Reading
Acts 1: 12-14
“John baptized with water, but in a few days
you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Lord,we are in the upper room
waiting for your Spirit.
Open our minds, our eyes, and our hearts
when your Holy Spirit tells us how
to fix our wars, and everything
that our lack of love destroys.
Then, help us act on what we hear!
Let no one have to ask us
“Why are you looking up at the sky?”
The Second Reading
1 Peter 4: 13-16
“(May) the Father of glory, give you a Spirit of wisdom
and revelation resulting in knowledge of him.”
Suffering, we ward you off.
Yet you steal into our lives.
OK, come in. Live with us,
but only if it means that
Christ is within us and that
we can know him better.
Lord, let the eyes of our hearts be enlightened
and filled with your kindhearted love that cures all.
Copyright © 2023, Anne M. Osdieck
Music for reflection