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, 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.
28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur you may believe.
Love. We talked about that last week didn’t we? We also talked about God’s love that resides within and without, all around us…how we are called to love and how hard it is to do that. I know this past week, there were several times I could point out that I simply wasn’t living into love very well…especially as I was packing three cars of stuff from Oxford to Cincinnati after my daughter’s graduation from college and need to move home until she moves to Nashville!
In my journal and in my daily readings and meditations, I am reminded that love is always there though…and that I do have access to it as I practice presence with myself and others.
Our passage this morning is in response to Judas by Jesus. Judas (not Judas Iscariot..different Judas) is wanting to know why Jesus has revealed himself to the disciples, and not to the rest of the world.
Jesus responds by saying that love is the key. And, it starts with loving yourself. We’ve talked about what it means to live in Christ, to live as your “true self”, to be present with yourself that leads to presence with others. Loving others starts with loving yourself. That’s not being selfish, it’s knowing that love resides in you…that it’s often found in the darkness and the suffering we experience because that causes a break within us for love to emerge. It’s also realizing that love, true self, presence are all terms for the Divine, for God. And God sees God’s self in all of us, each of us! That is communion friends! And, eventually, it does lead to peace. We want to be at peace with the love that resides within and without. As that love emerges, as we embrace and cultivate it, a deeper peace does arise within us.
We oftentimes try to deny that love, but God doesn’t. God remains faithful because God is an intimate indwelling in humanity and God cannot deny God’s self in us…2 Timothy 2:13 says this:
if we are faithless, God remains faithful—
God cannot deny himself.
Jesus goes on to say that we have the Divine Presence, the very spirit or soul of God given to us.
In Greek, the word is Pneuma, in Hebrew, its ruach. It means, wind, spirit, breath. It’s Presence. We’ve said this before, but this Spirit, wind, breath of God is everywhere. It sustains life, it carries life, it reveals the work of God through creating life, and through the work of Jesus of saving life and redeeming it.
A few years ago, I walked into Ludllow Wines where my friend Mike is the owner. On this day, we had a most wonderful conversation. In that conversation, I found out that he’s Greek Orthodox. We also talked a bit about the beauty of that language. The greek word for “advocate” in this morning’s passage in John is beautiful. Greek words often have many different meanings. The word for advocate in Greek is “paraclete”. It means to come alongside, to help, to counsel. We are co-creating the experience of love for self and neighbor with God.
Jesus knew that death was approaching. Jesus also hoped and understood that death needed to happen before resurrection. It’s a mystery, in theology, we often call it the Paschal mystery. God died on Good Friday. All was lost. God had to experience everything we do, the violence, being humiliated and betrayed…as well as being the humiliator and the betrayer. God had to experience loss and death.
When all is lost, when nothing is certain. That’s when faith comes alive, real. We don’t understand it, but somehow resurrection happened. And, not as we have been told in Sunday school most of our lives. It is a wounded resurrection. A Jesus, and a God, a universe, that has changed by being wounded. The scars are still there, yet healed and given new meaning.
2000 years later, we don’t always have faith. Even as we see it written out scripture. Jesus also knew that we would need to stay connected to each other and to him. That’s the way the Spirit works, it comes alongside, it advocates for us, it helps us to see things about ourselves, others, and God that may not make sense at times, but always seems to work out for the good eventually. It also reminds us that we are not alone, that the very power of God, the deep love of God that is radically inclusive of all of us in this room and outside these doors and windows, presides within us and all around us.
This spirit, as we cultivate our awareness of God and ourselves emboldens us and gives us confidence as it did the disciples. Even when all is lost, love still wins.
This passage reminds us that Jesus and God are one, and that God is one with us, in all things, in all of life. In that oneness, Jesus says the Father is greater. Well, end the Trinity, in that oneness, the Father would say Jesus is also great, and that, we, humans, in our mutual love and suffering and joy…our communion, we are great as well. It’s that glory thing….God’s glory is humanity being fully alive, and together as one. I’ll end with the lyrics of this song by Bono, lead singer of U2 that sums it up:
You got to do what you should
With each other
But we’re not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other