John 14:15-19 NRSV (adapted)
‘If you love me, you will follow my teachings. And I will ask God our Creator, and you will be gifted another Advocate, to be with you for ever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees it nor knows it. You know it, because it abides with you, and it will be in you.
‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live.
Even when alone its easy to feel you are not alone when the Autumn Sun breaks through, You observe the last autumnal leaves on the crepe myrtle, the fiddle wood is in flower as are the salvia and daisy. It’s more difficult to realise that when alone you are not alone when it’s all dark and grey. Yet even then when alone, we are not alone.
John 14:15 – 19 This is a very small part of a conversation Jesus had with his disciples. Talking about how the relationship is lived out between Jesus and those who love him.
You may have noticed one of the variations I made when reading our passage of Scripture, I read “if you Love me you will follow my teachings” Rather than “if you Love me you will keep my commandments”. This is the tricky thing with translations. For our Christian scriptures are translated from the ancient Greek into modern English. Both ways of saying the phrase is accurate to its meaning but there is more. Jesus in using the term that we translate as 'commandments' Is not some authoritarian person commanding or demanding that something be done on orders. In this instance with Jesus’s use of the word. Jesus is refereeing to the totality of his revealings of God. Whether through his teachings or actions. This continues Jesus’s earlier teachings about faithfulness to his Word. That is Word with a capital W. Word with the capital W is another term used the cover in part everything Jesus has revealed about God through his teachings or actions. Put simply to love Jesus is to live a life of love grounded in Jesus’s own love.
Fear not as the Advocate will be there with us as we live a life of love grounded in Jesus’s love.
Advocate is a translation of the Greek word Paraclete: A word that in Greek means many things
- the one who is called alongside us
- the one who exhorts (to strongly encourage or urge)
- the one who comforts
- the one helps
- the one who make appeal’s on one’s behalf.
The Advocate/Paraclete is all those things and more. It is the Spirit of Truth. As Jesus is the Truth, The Spirit of Truth shares the work of Jesus.
The Advocate – Paraclete – Spirit of Truth, we simply call the Spirit or Holy Spirit. They are all one and the same.
Jesus promises the disciples they will not be left alone the Spirit is coming. To be with them as they live a life of love grounded in Jesus’s love. They will not be orphaned from their Lord. This was a promise and hope from Jesus to strengthen the disciples in the coming dark days. This is a promise, hope and reality for us today.
The Darkest of days may be behind us but there are still dark days ahead. We may be on the way out of our lock-down. But it’s not over yet. The way out ahead of us is longer than up to this point in the pandemic. We may be filled with hope as our government has shown us a future. That hope may fade. Rest assured. At all times past and into our future we remain in Jesus’s promise The Advocate – The Spirit of God is with us. Is with you!
God of all, we have gathered here to praise and worship you because we have known your power and movement in our lives. We have felt your love surrounding and upholding us. Your Holy Spirit, the Advocate, has walked beside us through celebration and grief; a gentle, constant reminder of your presence.
God of mercy, we commit ourselves to be your church together because we know that you will not abandon us or leave us orphaned, but will be our sustainer forever. We commit ourselves to be a community that shows forth your abiding love to those who have felt abandoned by this world.
And so we pray this day:
for those who are grieving, and seeking a new way forward;
for those who are experiencing housing insecurity, hunger, or food insecurity;
for those with health concerns, mental or physical, that keep them isolated or unable to live into the fullness of who they could be;
for those who have been rejected by their families or communities;
for those who have been blamed or shamed by those who were supposed to give support or accountability;
for those who are living with violence and trauma as part of their daily lives.
Holy God, we know that the hurts of this world are not what you want for us. We know that you are with us, our comfort and consolation, even in hard times. Help us to come alongside each other, as well. Help us to be the tangible presence of your Holy Spirit, the hands and feet of your love in this world. Help us, O God of grace, to love each other as you have loved us. Amen
Seasons of the Spirit