May 20, 2023
The one they loved had died. Now they knew he was alive. The tomb, the angels, the burial cloths. The Emmaus journey, the holy conversations, the bread, the fish, the honeycomb. The one who taught them so much, who died, now lives. Now continues to teach them, bless them. Jesus lives. Jesus tells them to stay in the city and wait to be “clothed in power” on the day when the Spirit will be sent to them. Until then, wait. The Risen One leaves.
Resurrection seen and experienced. Hope recovered and restored. A promise of more to come. In the meantime, wait until. The Holy in-between time: between Easter and Pentecost. Holy presence and holy absence. In the meantime, return to the city and wait (Luke 24:49).
New life at its beginnings is fragile. The tender stem of a sprout breaks through the soil, reaching for the light and air in spindly transparent need and hope. Newborn kittens, wet and drowsy, blind and deaf for seven days, nuzzle their way through life on the outside. Small, frail, and needy. Anything that is born, or that is born again, is vulnerable. New life is exposed. Being in the big wide open of life, of possibilities, of choice, of the unknown is exhilarating and miraculous, but it is also arisk. Newborn things, and new beginnings need protection and care.
Perhaps that is why the Risen One instructed his beloveds to stay in Jerusalem and wait. The holy city at that time of new life and new beginning provided sanctuary. To be together in a known holy place in an exciting yet very vulnerable moment was wise counsel.
Until. Until is a remarkably profound spiritual time. New life in the until time, the in-between time, the waiting time, the meantime, requires special attention, care, and protection. Resurrection faith in its early days of joy and absence needs a holy place, a sanctuary in which to wait, grow, find its home, and prepare for the power to come. Where is yours?
Prayer: Holy One, thank you for this new life given. When faith is fragile, tender, and new, keep me safe and held close. Teach me the wisdom of holy waiting that I do not attempt to walk the way alone. Coax and care for the newly born. Amen. Alleluia.
Several years ago, at the end of taking Education for Ministry, each of us students were asked to take part in the church service that served as our “graduation”. Some read Scripture passages, some offered a prayer, I gave what might be called a meditation on that Sunday’s collect. It was the Seventh Sunday of Easter, the Sunday between Ascension and Pentecost. In the reading for that day, the Apostles are gathered together in the Upper Room, trying to figure out what to do now. Jesus has ascended and the promised Comforter hasn’t come yet, and they’ don’t know what to do while waiting for the Comforter to come. They’re in an in-between space, a liminal space, The word “liminal” comes from the Latin word for a doorstep, that place that’s not inside a building nor totally outside, but in between, on the edge. They want to do something, but what? They decide to pick a replacement for Judas so there will be 12 Apostles again. They can’t stand waiting for this unknown “promise”. They’re confused and anxious and want some action.
We, too, often find ourselves in such a spot, an in-between spot where we don’t know what to do. If we can calm down, be open to what God has in store for us, we will eventually receive an answer, perhaps not as soon as we would like, but in God’s good time.