Liturgy

The 50-day season of Easter continues until the feast of Pentecost, in mid-May.

'GOOD NEWS' for 6th Sunday of Easter

The Holy Spirit will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you. (John 14:23-29)

The reflection for this Sunday's Gospel is by Deacon Aaron Peters and is reprinted here with his kind permission. Deacon Peters is the Assistant Deputy Principal Year 7 at John XXIII College.

The First and Second readings this week present two apparently opposite scenarios.

In the First reading Luke presents a very ordinary, perhaps even universal human experience. That of an argument between two groups of people and the effort to resolve the conflict. Anyone who has been part of a group, community or even a family probably knows this experience very well. In this case the groups are both communities of Jewish Christians in the early Church. On one hand we have those Jewish Christians who live in Jerusalem - the heart of the Jewish world. These were people who had accepted Jesus of Nazareth as the long awaited Messiah or Israel. They saw Jesus in the context of the long Jewish tradition and naturally continued to think of themselves as Jewish and therefore lived lives of good Jews by following the Law and worshipping in the Temple when possible. For these people it seemed obvious that any person joining the Christian community would naturally take on all of these elements of a Jewish life as well.

On the other hand were another group of Christian, still predominantly Jewish, living out among the Gentile communities who were interacting with Gentile people who also accepted Jesus as Saviour but who did not share the Jewish context and therefore saw no need to take on the practices of a devout Jew. The champion of this group was Paul of tarsus, the great Apostle to the Gentiles.

What is of interest to Luke is how these two groups resolved their conflict. Once it is apparent that there is a problem the early Church community calls together a meeting of its leaders, the apostles and presbyters, who take turns in telling and reflecting on their own experiences. The meeting then turns to their tradition in the Old Testament stories and read about the nearest similar experience they can find there. They read from the prophet Amos of God's two stage plan of building the house of Israel and then inviting in the Gentiles. They then decide on a solution where Gentiles need only keep the minimal rules required of "resident aliens" in another chapter of Jewish history recounted in the book of Leviticus. Finally they make an announcement that this very human process of sharing experiences, looking for precedents and proposing a resolution as "the decision of the Holy Spirit". How can they say that when there has been no supernatural element at all?

If we look at the Second reading we are presented with the very opposite. Instead of a very down to earth example of problem solving we get a detailed description of a mystical vision of the new heaven and new earth at the end of time. This vision includes quite detailed but other worldly details such as the number and direction of gates and angels to be found in this new creation. And at the heart of the description the observation that there is no temple in this new world. How can there be no temple precisely in a world that is centred on the presence of God.200x200-liturgy-290416.jpg

Neither story really makes sense to us if we think about our faith in terms of a division between heaven and earth. The whole point of the Christian belief in Easter and the resurrection that we have been reflecting on and celebrating for six weeks now is that there is no division between the two. The victory of Jesus was not to take us out of the world but to unite our world with God's world once again. It is the reestablishment of Eden where God and humanity walked together in close harmony. In this world God is fully present to us in the daily experiences of life, including that of conflict resolution. And in this world there is no need to point to the place where God is manifested as a temple does because he is manifested in all and through all - just as light fills a room.

Image: @Jenny Close

Our task then, as a resurrection people, is not to escape our world. Nor is it to point outside of the world to a greater meaning or reality. It is to look to our own experiences and those of our communities and recognise in them the loving presence of Jesus and to respond to that presence exactly where we are. In this sense Easter, along with the fast approaching Feasts of Ascension and Pentecost thrust us forward into the mission of the Spirit-led Church.

© Aaron Peters

COMMUNITY LITURGY

Next Friday our Community celebration of the Eucharist will be prepared by Year 12. So it would be lovely to have Year 12 parents and friends join us in this celebration. Mothers are especially welcome, and there will be a special blessing for mothers in the lead up to Mother's Day. As always, the celebration continues with coffee in the Café, for those able to stay, and all are invited!

When: Fridays in Term Time
Time: 8:00-8:30am
Where: College Chapel