Tuesday, April 23, 2002


The Church of God is still in Eastertide moving towards the Celebration of the Ascension of our Lord, the event that concludes his Resurrection appearances to his disciples, and prepares us to wait expectantly for the Event of Whitsunday/Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Ghost.

The COLLECT contains themes which are of great importance to the baptized believers who have been raised from sin to newness of life in Christ Jesus, the Lord. There are two important contrasts. First, between our "unruly wills and affections" (that by God's help we need to control and redirect) and "love and desire" (for what God commands and promises to his children).

Our hearts that are naturally sinful need by grace to be renewed and redirected toward what God requires and promises! Secondly, between "sundry and manifold changes" of this world and the "true joys" of the kingdom of God. Our hearts need to focus on things above where Christ is, not on this world.

The EPISTLE is from James 1:17-21 and begins by celebrating the adoption of believers into the family of God, the Father of lights, by the regenerating power of His word. Then it moves quickly into a description of the kind of life the true believer, born from above by Word and Spirit, will seek to live. An emphasis here falls upon the emotion of anger (wrath) which only the God of all grace and glory can exercise righteously. Very rarely does human anger serve the cause of God's plan and righteousness. We need to allow the Word and Spirit of the Lord to form our hearts so that they do not produce unrighteous wrath.

The GOSPEL is from JOHN 16:5-15 and is part of the teaching that our Lord Jesus Christ gave to his disciples in the Upper Room just before his arrest and trial in Holy Week. Here the Saviour looks forward beyond the Cross and grave to his exaltation to heaven and his sending, with the Father, from there the gift of the Paracletos, the Comforter, the Counsellor, the Advocate, the Holy Ghost, who will be in the church and world as the Spirit of the exalted Christ. When he comes (Whitsunday/Pentecost) he will continue the work of the Lord Jesus Christ both in the world and in the Church. In the world he will make effective the preaching of the Gospel and thereby reprove sinners who hear it; and in the Church he will guide the disciples into all truth, make effective communion with God, and glorify the Lord Jesus and the Father. We need to receive this Gospel as part of our preparation to celebrate aright both the Ascension of our Lord and the Descent of his Spirit.

The Revd Dr Peter Toon Easter III, 2002.

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