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Sunday After Ascension Day

O GOD, the King of glory, who hast exalted thine only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph unto thy kingdom in heaven; We beseech thee, leave us not comfortless; but send to us thine Holy Ghost to comfort us, and exalt us unto the same place whither our Saviour Christ is gone before, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

Readings Below: 1 St. Peter iv. 7 St. John xv. 26,

be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer

Peter warns that the end of things is near, and implores his listeners to be sober, and watch unto prayer. The NIV renders this verse as "be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray". Peter puts the faithful on alert - a warning is given that they must keep the vigil and be prepared for the day of the Lord. This verse provides guidance for us today as well, for we do not know when the Lord shall return. As Jesus said only the Father knows that. Therefore, as Christians, we are to remain ready at all times, and prepared for his coming.

In the verses immediately proceeding this, Peter exhorts his listeners to live for God rather than evil human desires. He gives examples of living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and detestable idolatry. He says that the world looks at the Christians as odd for their sobriety and heaps abuse on them. Little has changed today; Christians who discriminate based on the behaviors Peter listed are often disparaged.

Next Peter tells his listeners the right way to live. First be sober [Sophroneo], serious, wise, in your right mind. Have the right assessment of yourself. Be objective and rational in your appraisal of your world. Being right minded requires clear thinking, judgement, wisdom, and justice.

Secondly, watch [Nepho], that is be calm, collected, sober, temperate, dispassionate, and circumspect. These attributes will enable you to pray in a manner that is pleasing to God. Perhaps more importantly, they will enable you to hear God when he answers your prayers. If you are not in control and alert, it will be very difficult to discern the will of God, and the right thing to do.

The New Testament Centurions may provide for us an example of sobriety and watch, "The centurions mentioned in the New Testament are uniformly spoken of in terms of praise, whether in the Gospels or in the Acts. It is interesting to compare this with the statement of Polybius (vi 24), that the centurions were chosen by merit and so were men remarkable not so much for their daring courage as for their deliberation, constancy, and strength of mind." [Dr. Maclear's NT History].

Finally, Peter tells his listeners what things they should be doing, as compared with the excesses of the world. These include a having deep love for one another, hospitality, serving others with whatever skills you have, speaking good things and doing good things according to the will of God, so that in all things God may be praised.

Jesus, just before his ascension, told the disciples to go the Jerusalem and wait there and he would send the Holy Spirit to them to prepare them for their evangelical mission. He also warned them that the world would hate them for their cause. No doubt that during the 10 days after the Ascension, Peter as a leader of the disciples, lived what he preached in his letter - self-control, rational thinking, and love. The disciples were encouraged by the words of their Lord, and marveled at his glorious ascension and the promise of the angels that he would return. We, likewise, wait on the 2nd coming of the Lord Jesus, and like the apostles are called upon to live a life of moderation and self-control, to use all our skills to think rationally and objectively so that our minds are clear, and to practice our faith by our love for our neighbors.

Hymn Holy Spirit, God of Love


1 St. Peter iv. 7.

THE end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

St. John xv. 26, and part of Chap. xvi.

WHEN the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them.

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