Janet Lawrence

Acts 17: 15, 22-18.1

15 Those who escorted Paul brought him to Athens and then left with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible.

In Athens

19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” 21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious.

23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’[a] As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’[b]

29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.

After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth

John 16: 12-15

12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”


Between Easter and the Ascension -fast approaching -tomorrow! Jesus came to his disciples in his resurrected person and we are told” -he appeared to his disciples over a period of 40 days and spoke about the kingdom of God” so he must have reinforced his previous teaching and tried to prepare them for what was to come, that he was to finish completely his earthly appearances and that the Holy Spirit would come to them.

We have heard some of this teaching in his John’s final discourses before the crucifixion, but the teaching would have been similar both before and after the resurrection.

We too need to be reassured of the truth that Jesus’ life did not does not just disappear altogether and we are left in the same position as people before Jesus came at all, but there is a new way of living, kingdom living and we need not be alone to work it out.

Jesus says the Spirit of truth when he comes, will guide you into all truth.

Of course, the spirit of God is mentioned in the Old Testament -at creation and, also, as the action of God in the world involved in the Israel’s life.

But Jesus now introduces him as more personal -and when Jesus says he will guide you into all truth he is speaking of you and me not a nation or a church.  

I love the way Jesus speaks of the Spirit here, it is the interweaving of the Father the Son, who has received the truth from the Father

And shared through the Spirit to us.

But Father Son and Spirit have a spiritual interdependence

Learned theologians have written many books about this from the earliest times, and I don’t want to anticipate what is said on Trinity Sunday -but the little Celtic diagram on your pews expresses it very well, where do the shapes stop and start?

The question we are left with is whether we will listen to the Spirit and be open to newer and deeper understandings of our faith and to the implications of Jesus’s revelation for us today. The internet, social media, and the 24-hour news cycle now give us a more immediate awareness of local, national, and global crises that challenge us for a Christian response, on issues such as such immigration and racial injustice, to list just two examples. What is the Christian response to such realities? What response is truer and more faithful to Jesus’ revelation? Can we, like John, trust the Spirit to guide us in discerning what it means to live out Christian faith today?

St Paul knew God’s spirit was guiding him as he spoke to the interested Athenians about this “new “religion he brought to their city.    This was by invitation at one of their important meeting places the Areopagus.

Everywhere he went he was inspired by the Spirit to find the most appropriate way of addressing his audience.

Among the many shrines and altars to gods and goddesses of the Greek world he chooses to point out the god they might have left out!

He has seen altars to an “unknown God” -that is hedging your bets, and Paul says I can tell you there is a God who made the world -and human beings, who gives life to all

How can you make an image of him of wood or stone That is not right. Through his attention to one nation, he has appointed a man

 for all nations (Jesus) to judge, and to prove his credentials, has raised him from the dead.

This was Gods spirit speaking through Paul.

Some were convinced but some sneered -the reaction to Gods truth throughout the centuries.

When we speak in Jesus’ name, we can have Gods spirit speaking in us. It doesn’t have to be a great acclamation in public, but kind words and actions can be inspired by Gods Spirit who comes from the Father through Jesus the son.

Remember to thank him!

[Janet Lawrence]