Today’s text (John 14: 23-27) presents us with the Holy Spirit as that aspect of God called alongside us and alongside all of creation! The word that’s described in the Greek text as the PARACLETOS is variously translated in our English translations as the ‘Comforter’ ‘Friend’ ‘Advocate’ ‘Helper’ – but literally means The One that is ‘called alongside’ This is Jesus promising that we are never, and will never be, alone! Not us nor any of all creation! God is with us!
It’s what we confess each time we say ‘A NEW CREED’ together.
And that matters – most profoundly! It means that regardless of how we may sometimes feel, we are never deserted/ nor overlooked/ missed/ ignored…
That’s the point of so many beautiful scriptures: We see it in Christ’s name: Emmanuel[i]: God is with us! The psalmist[ii] writes of it ‘where should I go to be away from your presence…? This recurring theme all through scripture[iii].
That matters for ourselves: There’s a comfort that comes from knowing that there is nothing that can separate us from God’s loving presence[iv]. There’s a strengthening that comes from knowing that we are being backed up! That’s certainly how Joshua[v] must have felt. A there is a hope! I think that’s something of what the writer of Hebrews[vi] had in mind as he spoke of having ‘…the assurance of things hoped for, certainty of that which we cannot see’
And it matters for others: Christ doesn’t say that when the HS is called alongside, that’s only for a select few. In fact, in other parts of the Bible it expressly stresses just the opposite – I think of Joel’s[vii] famous prophecy.
God’s Spirit is called by God to be here and everywhere, but most people don’t know it! Most people think that it somehow depends on them and if they don’t believe enough or don’t care enough, not religious enough, well, then it’s not for them! It is! Well, in a world blinded by so much reactionary anger and hate and greed, consumed with so much bloated accumulation, our main job is to bear witness to this other God-with-us reality! It’s our mandate to help all the world to become more ‘God-aware!’ And we do that as we use our best creativity to help them to discover and to embrace this other, MUCH more real reality! …and then, almost naturally, to live into it!
The church doesn’t have a ‘MISSION’ or ‘purpose’. Only God has a Mission, and God has us as God’s church to fulfill God’s mission! God’s mission is for God’s loving, healing, forgiving character to be known in and through every fiber of creation! All of what is created in God’s name and image is achingly beautiful! WHERE PEOPLE DON’T KNOW IT’S UP TO US TO SHOW THEM!
But c’mon… I’m getting older, with limited money, health, abilities…? Or maybe, I’m just starting out with a young family… So little time. Resources…? Not much faith…
What can I do?
Or, so very much…
On this Sunday, so we embrace the reality of the Holy Spirit
…called alongside us:
May we know this most fundamental truth of our faith: that God is with us!
And then, called alongside others:
May others come to know that reality – and may we be useful by not getting in the way of them realising that truth!
Rev. Robin Jacobson reserves all rights © 2019.
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[i] The word Emmanuel appears three times in the Bible: Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 8:8, Matthew 1:23.
[ii] Psalm 139
[iii] John 1:14
[iv] Romans 8
[v] Joshua 1:9
[vi] Hebrews 11
[vii] Joel 2