Trust and obey, part 2Where's the Faith? Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
Social Chaos: Where's the Faith?
Last week, guest writer, Rev. Mark Beckett looked at Jesus’ commandments on love and started exploring some different names used for the Holy Spirit, including paraclete (not parakeet). And we began looking at Jesus’ prayer at the end of his “Farewell Discourse” with the disciples, found in John, Chapter 17, verses 15-21. To continue with the analysis of the scripture:
Verse 18 continues, “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you!” For the disciples, this promise was so important to hear. You will never be alone. Or, it could mean a disciple left alone by their teacher. And Jesus had said he was leaving, to a place they couldn’t follow. Did you notice the shift in verb tense in the passage? This happens often in the Farewell Discourse. I will not leave … I am coming to you!
In verse 19, Jesus continues, “In a little while, the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live.” Here again is the fluid verb tense, “You will see me” (speaking of the future when he is sitting right there in front of them!) … “Because I live” (back to the present, or is it the future again?) and “you also will live” (back to the future)!
In verse 20 Jesus says, “On that day, you will know that I am in my loving God and you in me, and I in you.” This must have made their heads swim a little bit; I know it does mine. There doesn’t seem to be any distinction between God, Jesus and the believers. When “that day” arrives, when they no longer have Jesus in their physical midst, they can be sure, they can trust, that Jesus and God will be together, they will be with Jesus and Jesus will be in them; a mystical way of relating to each other made possible by the Holy Spirit.
We close with verse 21, where Jesus once again commands us to obey him, “Those who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my loving God and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”
Now I need to return to the gift of this mysterious Advocate or Comforter or Encourager or Helper, or The Holy Spirit sent by God to be with us “forever.”
When I was a boy, the church I grew up in had two large stained glass windows. One showed Jesus as the good shepherd, and the other showed him standing in front of the empty tomb.
What visual do you have in your mind when you think of the Holy Spirit?
Oh, we know (or think we do) what Jesus looks like, as there have been countless images created over the years. And because Jesus so often said that he and the Creator “are one,” and the Bible says we are created in God’s image, we may have an idea of what God looks like But the Spirit’s appearance, that’s more than a bit vague, isn’t it?
David Lose, a professor of preaching at Luther Seminary in Minnesota, offers two “insanely obvious” clues about what this spirit looks like. He shares, “The Holy Spirit looks like the one who stands up for you when you need it, the one who speaks on your behalf, the one who lends you a helping hand, takes your side and won’t leave you when you are down;” and secondly, the Holy Spirit looks like Jesus. And so, he reasons, when we keep Jesus’ commandment to love others, the Holy Spirit looks a lot like us.
So, here’s what I need for you to do. First, over the next few days, think about, ponder, make note and give thanks for how the Holy Spirit or the Advocate or the Comforter or the Helper or the Encourager or the Spirit of Truth has moved in your life. What did this presence look like? Did it appear as another person? In an unusual situation? In a dream? Second, think about, ponder, make note and give thanks for the way you were able to be seen or experienced as the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives you have touched. When have you seen the face of the Advocate in the mirror? And third, think about, ponder, make note and give thanks for the way a faith community has shown its love and it’s abiding in the Holy Spirit both as a body and in individuals.
The Spirit of Truth has been here for us, the Spirit is here now, blessing and keeping us in Christ’s presence and the Spirit is coming to encourage, love and support others who will come after us. Praises to our Creator God, praises to our Savior Jesus and praises to the Holy Spirit as together they abide in us, and we in them, world without end. Amen.
’Till next week when Rev. Dan Koeshall will be back with you.
Rev. Dan Koeshall is the Senior Pastor at The Metropolitan Community Church (The Met) in San Diego, California, themetchurch.org.
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