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17th May 2010

By Ian Cardinal - Posted on 17 May 2020

Readings for Sunday 17 May
Psalm 66: 7-end         Acts 17: 22-31 John 14: 15-21
Have you ever made a promise you couldn’t keep? I guess that most of us have in our lifetimes. It may not have been intended, but life gets in the way. Maybe it was a promise to meet someone at a certain time – and a train or bus didn’t run, there was a traffic jam – something, anything got in the way!
In this week’s gospel, Jesus begins to look forward to a time beyond Easter. We may still be in the Easter season, but he makes a promise that, when he has left them in his physical form, the disciples will not be left alone. Now they will have the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. In doing this he looks forward to a time that will come, when the people of God will be strengthened and empowered for the work of bringing in his Kingdom. Any promise is dependent on the ability of the person concerned to fulfil their promises. Here we have the Lord of Life making a promise that we know we depend upon.
This is a seminal time for our churches. The Prime Minister has promised that the time is coming when we will be able to unlock our churches and gather again for worship – may he be able to fulfil that sooner, rather than later! But it will not be just “business as usual.”  To start with we shall simply be able to go in to pray quietly – but then there will be a time when we can have a limited service, not the Eucharist, and we shall have to find ways of worshipping without handling books or papers. At this point we shall have to find a way of projecting words for us all to join in – and we will not be in our favourite pews. Instead we shall have to gather together, still socially distanced in a place where we can read the projection. In Germany they are currently not singing hymns in case of projecting the virus through spray – but hopefully that may not happen here.
And when we finally can share in the “wonderful sacrament” again, it will begin with communion in “one kind” and not touching the altar rail as we did on March 15th. I do ask you all to bear with us on this kind of thing. It’s not the Clergy and Bishops being over-fussy – it’s trying to protect one another and NOT having another round of cases of the virus
In Winston Churchill’s words “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” I cannot, of course, even make you a promise of when this will be, although the 4th July has been mentioned as a possible review date. In the meantime I commend to you the fact of Jesus’s promise to his disciples: when times were going to be almost unbearable he told them to look for God’s promise to be fulfilled. That happened in the Resurrection and on the day of Pentecost. God has not forgotten us and will not leave us like this, so today let’s do three things:
Let’s watch the clips of such services we have. Our own are on St Michael & St Wulfad’s Facebook page and our church website Revd Alison is also going to begin a telephone service next week that you can read about on this sheet.
Let’s pray urgently for each other. You will be aware of the large number of funerals that have come our way during this crisis – and it is not an easy experience to take abbreviated services at the crematorium or graveside at this time.
Let’s pray for the fulfilment of the promise – and wait eagerly for the time when we can thank God for our deliverance. I anticipate a big service of thanksgiving when it becomes possible once again!
Ian Cardinal