Saturday, 23 May 2020

With One Accord - The Sunday after Ascension Day

When the disciples arrived back in Jerusalem they went to the room upstairs where they were staying. It will help our reflections if we go with them and although it may not have been, though some say it was, let us in any case, imagine that it is the same upper room where they celebrated the Passover Supper on the eve of the crucifixion. Since then they have known despair, were likely angry with one another (surely in the immediate days they asked themselves couldn’t they have spoken out more and done something to prevent this somehow?) . Soon afterwards they retired in defeat to Galilee, back to their boats then joyfully there were days spent with Jesus again, and now they are in Jerusalem fearful that the authorities may try to root them out for association and they gather. What to do surrounded by the memories, the cushions they lay on that night, the torture they witnessed, the uncertaintly of an empty tomb? But with Jesus having appeared to them and with the promises he gave them - everything he told them that would happen did happen: They must believe him now.

They were constantly devoting themselves to prayer or as the King James Bible says more strongly “These continued with one accord in prayer and supplication.” I do not know why modern versions omit that phrase, with one accord, for it is an important component of the scene before us. They were together in fellowship and harmony, united in experience with no quarrel or discord between them. Their instinctive response to Jesus’ ascension is to pray together. Behind and informing these prayers is that fullness of trust in Jesus, his being the Son of God that they had seen and felt and been part of. This depth and completeness of trust may at times be elusive to us so many hundreds of years on. But our view of the upper room with followers praying is not a picture we are looking into but one we

are part of. As we stand or sit alongside the men and women on that room we feel that they are afraid for the future; we are afraid for the future. They are, with the vision of Jesus ascending in recent memory, hopeful for the future; we are hopeful for the future. They know they will need help for the future; we know we need help for the future.

Their intuitive response to these uncertainties is to pray, but let us ponder a  moment. before this day, before this afternoon in Jerusalem they would not have prayed to Jesus. Is this the first time? Of course they would have prayed with Jesus many times and they should have had the inestimable benefit of his teaching them how to pray to the Father and how to make this a way of being,  a constant part of their daily lives but now, gathered together with Jesus not physically with them, palpably so, no look,no touch no certain presence they pray with one accord. Not, to a distant impersonal God but to a God they know and trust. Let us remain in their room awhile, with all our anxieties sharing the tensions they feel and pray with them to the God we know, and who we know knows us, for the things we know he knows we need so that when we leave the room we do so with confidence and trust.


No comments:

Post a comment