Saturday, June 4, 2011

The In Between Times: Do Not Leave Us Comfortless

Fr. Dale Matson

A portion of our Collect for the Seventh Sunday of Easter states, “Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit”. We are at an important in between place in the church year. We are awaiting comfort and empowerment. Christ ascended into Heaven forty days after Easter. Ascension Day is one of the seven Principal Feast Days in the church year and was celebrated last Thursday. Next Sunday is another of the seven Principal Feast Days. It is the Day of Pentecost where the Holy Spirit descends on the Apostles and the Church is born, empowered to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. Until this point, the Apostles were spending a good deal of time behind a locked door in the upper room. They were obediently waiting but while they waited, there was no boldness, only fear. They had seen their resurrected Lord for forty days and then He ascended to Heaven. Christ told the Apostles to wait a few days in Jerusalem for empowerment by the Holy Spirit. He said they would receive a “baptism”. This period of waiting did amount to a matter of days and this Sunday would be day three of ten. The in between time from Christ’s Ascension to Pentecost was a matter of days.

There is a repeated cycle of joy and sadness for the Apostles with the in between waiting times. In the story of Lazarus, Christ’s friends were happy to see Him but sad that He had not come sooner. While they awaited His arrival, their brother Lazarus died.

After the Israelites fled Egypt, they spent forty years wandering in the wilderness before they crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land. There is a purpose to the in between times. It is waiting on the Spirit of God to fall upon us afresh. It is to learn patience and obedience. It is to seek the will of God.

How much of your life has taken place in the in between times. How often has a situation seemed to drag on with no resolution? How about the letter from the insurance company? How about that job you applied for. Why haven’t you heard anything yet? What about the diagnosis? When will the doctor’s office call you about it? Have you prayed about it? Have you prayed and prayed about it and not received an answer? Have you finally come to a place where you said, “Not my will Lord but Your will be done.”

Christ was awaiting His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane and wanted God to remove the sentence of death from Him. It was a terrible in between time for Him. It was the time between His arrest and His crucifixion. It is so hard to say to God, “Thy will be done”.

The church itself also called the bride of Christ is in between times awaiting the return of the bridegroom. The church is called to be in the world and not of it. This view shapes the churches’ response to this same culture.

We are not left comfortless during these in between times. Christ was born, Christ died, and Christ will come again. The Holy Spirit is here to comfort us. He is here and even called the comforter and the counselor. He is the one called alongside as the advocate. He is that still small voice offering exhortation, encouragement and empowerment. Listen to Him. Listen to Him in the silences between the background noises. He has much to tell you. Amen.

No comments: