Seventh Sunday of Easter

Liberating Love  (Mothers Day) – 12 May 2013

On Thursday this week, millions of Christians around the world were probably unaware of lesser-celebrated event in the Christian calendar, the ‘ascension of Jesus’.  In some countries like Holland, Germany, France and Indonesia there was even a public holiday to mark the day.  However, here in Australia the day came and went without much ado. The earliest observance to the Ascension dates back to the year 68AD, which is quite remarkable when you think that it was just over 30 years after Christ’s death and resurrection.  In the 40 days after the resurrection Jesus met with his disciples and instructed them on how to carry out his teachings.  On Ascension Day, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives where they watched him ascend to heaven.  Luke puts it this way, “Yes it was written long ago that the Messiah must suffer and die and rise again on the third day.  With my authority, take this message of repentance to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who turn to me.’  You are witnesses to all these things.  And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised.  But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven” Then Jesus led them to Bethany and lifting his hands to heaven, he blessed them.  While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up to heaven.  They worshipped him and then returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy.  And they spent all their time in the Temple, praising God” (Luke 24:46-53)

This experience above is the precursor to our family service next Sunday, which is Pentecost.  The disciples were told to “wait here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven”.  Ten days after the ascension, there was the Jewish observance of Pentecost, which is celebrated 50 days after the Passover ceremonies (see Leviticus 23:16).

Next Sunday will be Pentecost Sunday where we celebrate the ‘birthday of the Christian Church’ and the ‘coming of the Holy Spirit’.  It will be a great opportunity for you to invite friends or family to share in this celebration of Pentecost in an open and joyful manner.  After the service there will be a beautiful morning tea (Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea) where we hope to raise some money for Cancer research.  (Please bring a contribution).  Then, for those wishing to sing some great hymns of the season, there is the Hymn-a-long at 11am.

Today however is Mothers Day and my attention was caught up by the situation in Ohio (USA) where the lives of three women and a young girl have been set free from a terrible ordeal that has spanned the last ten years as they were kidnapped and held captive until their escape this week.  The families of these women, especially the mothers of these ladies, are experiencing the overwhelming surprise and joy of having their daughters back in their care and family.  It’s as if they were dead and now they are alive.  Despite the horrific nature of this situation, I can see some connections with our own Gospel message today.  In Acts 16:16-34 we have a story of Liberating Love and New Life being experienced in a range of people’s lives and circumstances.

How can you share God’s Liberating Love with your family and friends this week?  I look forward to hearing the stories of God’s Holy Spirit at work in worship, next week.

Rev. Brad Foote

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