It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.

- John 15

Sixth Week of Easter: May 10 - 16, 2015

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Sixth Week of Easter

On the Sixth Sunday of Easter, we hear the powerful words that Jesus uses to send us on our mission: “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.”

On Thursday, around the world and in all but a few parts of the United States, it is the Ascension of the Lord. For those who don't celebrate it Thursday, the Ascension will be next Sunday, May 17.

The Ascension readings give us the stories of the Jesus' being taken up to heaven from the beginning of Acts of the Apostles. Another version is heard through the last chapter of Mark's Gospel.

Our Easter season readings from Acts of the Apostles continue this week. We read of Paul and Silas in jail, and the conversion and baptism of the jailer and his family; Paul's bold speech to the crowd at the Areopagus and his fearless preaching in Corinth, despite the growing threat from the Jews.

In John's Gospel, we sense we are approaching Pentecost in two weeks as Jesus begins to speak of his leaving the earth and of the coming of the “Advocate” - the Spirit of Truth. The image of the Trinity is clear: “when the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father....” To his disciples, the idea of his leaving fills their hearts with grief but Jesus reassures them, “it is better for you that I go” so that the Spirit can come to them. The Spirit “will guide you to all truth.” “So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.” Jesus encourages them to pray: “whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.”

The Seventh Sunday of Easter shows the Spirit at work in the Acts of the Apostles as a large group of disciples prays for guidance in choosing an apostle to replace Judas. In John's Gospel Jesus offers a moving prayer for those he loves asking the Father to “keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one.”


Daily Prayer This Week

We sometimes keep the idea of the Trinity firmly in our heads, rather than move it to our hearts. Our logical, practical minds cannot make sense out of three persons in one God.

But clearly this week Jesus wants us to have some sense of what the Trinity is - a continuation of the seamless love and identity between him and the Father. It is the Spirit of that love between them that lives on in us today, guiding us and helping us to follow the message of Jesus' life. It is that Spirit of Jesus that is with us in each of the difficult and joyous moments of our days.

Jesus invites us to discover the power of the Spirit in our lives through an awareness of “the Advocate” supporting us each day. Jesus encourages us in the same kind of intimate relationship he has with the Father. The startling idea of this close, personal conversation one might have with a parent, models for us how we can speak to him.

If we feel tongue-tied or don't know where to begin, that is exactly the place to start. Each morning as we awaken, we can speak from our hearts.

Loving Jesus, I'm not sure how to do this. I can feel in my heart an emptiness or longing for something deeper in my relationship, but I don't always know where to begin. Help me to open my heart to you this day, and to carry with me the sense of how much you love me and how much you want this kind of personal relationship with me.

Let me feel your Spirit present with me as I face the challenges of the day and let me live my life this day as your follower, in the peace of your love.

It is a simple prayer and one that we can remember as we go about our day, head to a meeting, stand in the kitchen or fold laundry. It is not complicated to have a closer relationship with God but it takes focus. And always, we can end our day with a simple prayer of thanks for the many blessings of the day.

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