May 14, 2023 - 6th Sunday in Easter
Readings: Acts of the Apostles 8:5-8, Psalm 66, 1 Peter 3:15-18, John 14:15-21
With Pentecost only two weeks away,
our readings have turned from stories of the resurrection
to stories of the Holy Spirit.
In the Acts of the Apostles today,
we hear how the Holy Spirit came to Samaria,
to a people who were once thought of as heretical,
who once refused to welcome Jesus and his disciples,
and on another occasion rejoiced when they heard his words
after his encounter with a Samaritan woman at the local well.
The same Spirit that had come upon the Apostles at Pentecost
had now come upon new believers in the resurrection
of Jesus Christ.
If that could happen in Samaria,
it could happen anywhere,
even in Mercer County, Ohio.
The psalmist today rejoices in what God has done,
and we cry out with him and all who have prayed this psalm
over the past centuries:
Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
In Peter’s first letter,
which many scripture scholars believe
was written to a community of newly baptized Christians,
he implores them and us,
Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.
Always be ready to give an explanation
to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.
Just as Peter only began to that after he received the Holy Spirit,
so we are called to do what he did,
to explain our reason for hope.
Our hope which comes from the One who died
and rose again,
and who sent us the Holy Spirit.
Today’s gospel comes from the Last Supper discourse in John’s gospel,
where Jesus is giving final instructions to his disciples.
He had just told them that he was the way, the truth and the life.
He had just told them that if they had seen him,
they had also seen the Father.
Now, he was preparing them for his departure.
In a little while the world will no longer see me,
but you will see me.
He promised to send them an Advocate,
the Holy Spirit,
who would be with them and in them.
Even after his resurrected body ascended into the heavens,
they would recognize the presence of Christ
in their midst
because of the Holy Spirit.
Today, we recognize the Risen One
in this assembly gathered together,
in the Word that has been proclaimed,
in the ministers ministering in our midst,
and in bread broken and wine poured.
Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus,
it may take us a little while to recognize what is in our midst,
but with the Spirit’s help,
our hearts can burn within us
because of what we have seen and heard.
We can share our faith as Philip did with the Samaritans.
We can cry out to God with joy.
We can be brought to life in the Spirit,
And we can love the One
who has left us an Advocate.
We can be among those
who are loved by [the] Father,
loved by the Christ,
and who have had the Christ revealed to them.
We can do all of this because of him who loved us
and sent us another Advocate,
the Holy Spirit of God.