The Rev. Peter A. Lane
This weekend we hear the story of Jesus’ ascension into heaven, and his transition from his earthly life and ministry of ushering in the Kingdom of God to his heavenly role as King of kings and Lord of lords. This, of course, also marks a major transition for his followers from disciples to apostles; from those who followed Jesus and learned from him into those who now carry out the work Jesus commissions them for – building God’s kingdom. The one constant throughout these stories is the presence of God’s Holy Spirit.
It was the Spirit that descended on Jesus in his baptism in the River Jordan, and then drove him into the wilderness in preparation for his ministry. It was the Spirit that bound Jesus to his Father in heaven and enabled him to carry out the work he’d been given to do. And it will be the Spirit that will descend upon Jesus’ followers, just as he had promised- “I will not leave you orphaned. I will ask the Father and he will give you another advocate, who will be with you forever.” John 14:15, empowering them to move through this major transition in their lives and become the Apostles, the builders of the Church.
I’ve written before about the place of transition in our lives – it’s one of the few things in life we can count on! Sometimes we can anticipate and prepare for these transitions – a big move, retiring from work, the birth of a child – and other times they catch us by surprise – an unexpected diagnosis, a sudden break-up in a relationship, an accident. Sometimes our transitions are major, life-changing events, and other times less significant – worthy of our attention but not life-altering. But whether the transition is planned or not, large, or small, the one constant we have through such times is the Advocate, promised by Jesus, given by the Father, and with us at all times and circumstances. God’s Spirit is both the wisdom and the strength we need to navigate life’s transitions.
I’m mindful of several transitions here at St. Alfred’s, some of which are annual occurrences and others extraordinary. We are wrapping up our program year as May turns to June – most of our regular formation offerings – Bible study, Book Club, Faith in the Public Square – are ending for the summer. We’ll transition to a quieter schedule around here until September. A number of folks are also transitioning to summer homes – last Sunday we prayed for many of those folks as they prepared to travel. Good news – both our snowbirds and our programs will be back in the fall!
Another major transition we’re experiencing is all of the change involved as we prepare to receive our new organ. Changes in worship schedules, location, and even how we worship have all been part of this preparation. I’m not sure any of us can fully grasp the change we are going to experience when the organ is finally in place, filling that holy space with such beauty.
And then there are the personal transitions members of our parish experience on a regular basis. Some of these we know about and support with our love and prayers, and some happen without our knowledge. But through it all is the wisdom and strength of God’s Holy Spirit, to guide and direct us as people of faith and a community of faith. As we move toward our celebration of the gift of the Advocate, the Spirit of truth that guides us into all truth on Pentecost, I invite you to take some time to acknowledge both the transitions that you have faced or are facing, and the presence of an Advocate to guide and direct you through these changes, whether they be large or small, welcome or unwelcome. In the end, we can trust that God will see us through them, and bless us because of them. That’s the promise Jesus has made to us, and he is trustworthy and true to his word.
See you in church.