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Bible Study Guide for Sunday, May 16, 2021

May 11, 2021
  • Acts 1:15-17, 21-26
  • 1 John 5:9-13
  • John 17:6-19
  • Psalm 1


We are reaching the edge of Easter season, and our readings point to the upcoming transition. In past weeks we have heard many references to abiding in Jesus and God's love. Abiding, resting, dwelling, tarrying: this week's readings remind us that abiding means so much more than just keeping our distance from the world with Jesus.

In a few days, Jesus will ascend to heaven in a flash and disappear. I'm imaginging the immediate aftermath of the ascension as melancholy and lonely for the apostles. The switch from purely resting with Jesus to prayerful action in the world seems wrenching for me. Today's collect speaks to my cry: "Do not leave us comfortless". Truly faithful action can take place when Jesus is invited in with prayer.

Abiding as a spiritual excuse to disengage is very tempting. In my own life, I often hold overly tightly on Jesus - trying to be the tree planted by a stream of water, never withering, filled with fruits of the Spirit and prosperity. Like the beloved disciple, I want to rest my head on Jesus's chest and remain close.

But Jesus himself is about to ascend to heaven and disappear off the scene, making that kind of clutching impossible! He's trying to prepare me to make my own steps, not just hanging in His shadow. In the Gospel, He's wrapping things up. Jesus prays for protection for His disciples, that, though they do not belong to the world, they are still in the world, and they are still exposed to all its dangers. The apostles abided with Jesus while He was on earth and were protected by Him, and now they must carry that experience into their ministry to the world at large.

I want the Easter season to go on longer, to spend more time with the risen Jesus, but Jesus has other plans. His post-resurrection appearances always feel rushed, like He knows He will soon be gone. The apostles take their cue from Jesus, and though they constantly pray to Jesus for everything (even just adding a friend to their circle), they never stop ministering to people in need. Abiding is multifaceted and always involves action. -Betsy Noecker


  • How do we reconcile the image of having faith like a planted tree with Jesus's active, busy ministry?
  • What spiritual comforts do you turn to in times of transition?
  • Do you ask for Jesus's advice and presence in making decisions?

Author: Betsy Noecker


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