18 “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.
25 “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate,[a] the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
The Coming of the Holy Spirit
2 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.”12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”
This week, in the common lectionary, we are still working in the last discourse that Jesus gave after the Last Supper and before he went to the cross.
Jesus is encouraging the disciples, letting them know that even when things get bad, seemingly out of control, that they won’t be alone. They have an identity, they are not going to be orphaned. Which, is an interesting word, in effect, Jesus is saying that they not only have an identity, but that they are still in relationship with a God who is all around them and even in them.
I can somewhat relate to this when my grandfather died. We were really close, he believe in me. It’s been 15-20 years since he died, but I still feel his presence.
Now, this presence pales in comparison to what I’ve experienced with Jesus, similar, but with Jesus it’s even more present within my body, within my friendships, and within the space between us. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the Jesuit priest, author, and scientist, calls this the cosmic Christ, that Christ not only lived and walked the earth, but is with us, everywhere with everyone and everything, right now.
Notice that Jesus doesn’t say that there won’t be any problems in this passage…that life would be perfect and everything is going to be OK. No, he simply promises that he won’t leave us, that he’ll be with us in the midst of life’s throes.
I spend a lot of time checking in with folks who are going through some hard times. Maybe they are sick, or have had a break in a relationship, or are struggling with various issues. I can’t, with integrity, say that their situations will work out, I don’t know. But, I can say that they are not alone, that there is a Presence, a sense of God’s love all around them and I pray for awareness of God’s Presence. I believe that the greatest gift and struggle that we have as Jesus followers, as humans, is the work of becoming of self, others, and God aware. Of moving past our small egos and moving into a global ego, a sense of deep connection with ourselves, others, and God’s movement and shaping.
We are not alone in this work, God is with us, reminding us that we can see God…often in the small things.
Jesus gives the pronouncement that he won’t be able to be seen by the world, but his followers will see him. That’s an interesting thought. We’ve prayed for eyes to see and ears to hear God’s movement in our world. I strongly believe that all of humanity is being shaped and formed by God’s movement, that God is with all of us in the most intimate way. God is closer than the air we breathe. Yet, we don’t often recognize God, or sometimes we even deny that God could even exist. The idea of a loving God can scare us. Love transforms, it changes us. Yet, we are comfortable with what we think we know.
Jesus goes on to say that because he lives, because he loved and continues to love, we will all someday see that we find our being in community, in relationship with God.
This concept of being “in” relationship with God and with others starts with an understanding that God’s very nature is communal relationship. You can go through all sorts of head knowledge of God, but if we go deep within ourselves, whether we are extroverts or introverts, we are wired for relationship. Science affirms this concept, at the very root of how we are formed, with atoms, protons, neutrons, quarks, etc., there is an understanding that energy is created for atoms to form through attraction, through relationship.
Our understanding of God as three in one, as Trinity, gives witness to relationships. God as father, son, holy spirit are so close that they are one. The outcome of their energy together is creating, saving, and sustaining relationship based on love. It is not static, it is dynamic.
This love moves us, gives us energy. We are drawn to it like an atom is drawn together to form something. As a seminary professor at Fuller once told me, we can say no to God, but what if God says no to our no? There is a flow that is creating and shaping us, and that flow is relational, and it is marked by love. We can go on resisting it, or we can obey that desire to love and let it reveal itself to us.
There are all sorts of comments on what it means in this passage when it says “on that day”. Is that the end of time? I believe that in God, there isn’t linear time, all is “now”, present. We have days that we recognize this love.
This love may move us towards a personal understanding of God’s love for us, but it also moves us eventually in an evolutionary way towards an understanding that God’s love is for everyone and is not so small minded or ego-centric on just us, but all of us.
As we begin to allow God’s love to pour into us and through us to others, we begin to understand that we are connected to an expansive God. We begin to see faith as not being right, not living in a black and white world, but understanding that living in mystery and curiosity, living in a willingness to let go of our control, our vision, and letting God expand our horizons and understanding of the global Christ project by being locally rooted in community, we begin to experience a deepening of ourselves, a joy in things unseen but lived out.
God’s Spirit is called Advocate, God advocates for us. God has made God’s home with us, and is in our corner. Not in our corner to meet our selfish needs, but to say to us that we are not alone, that God sees a better “us” and is calling us into growth through awareness. This Advocate, this Presence, God’s Spirit, is a counselor for us, reminds us of God’s story with us, and goes with us.
God’s Spirit is a gift, but just like any gift, we need to open it, see it, experience it. A good place to start is to work towards authentic community with others, to honor them, to work towards awareness by slowing down and taking time each day to reflect, pray, journal. By unplugging and going on a retreat to a quiet place.
As we do that, we will begin to see that God is in us, and we find our being in God. This being will move us in ways we don’t always expect. Look at the early disciples that are describe in Acts. They experience the Spirit, it’s like a flame that’s burning, uncontrollable, yet warms them and moves them to change the world