Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Meaningful Farewell

In John 14.15-21, Jesus speaks to his closest followers about . . . them – about what his death will mean for them in real time – God’s time . . . what they are to do . . . how things will really be . . . why they shouldn’t be afraid . . . this is his dying declaration of love.

If you love me, you will attend to the things I have told you – my commands.  

Just what are Jesus’ commands?  The most obvious is the one he has just given them – what he calls a ‘new command’:
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. -- John 13.34-35
This is not a demand for proof of our love . . . Jesus is speaking to his own followers – their love for him is a given.  What he’s is doing is telling them what love for him looks like.  He might have said it like this today: I love you and I know you love me, so I know you’ll do as I’ve told you and love each other.

Jesus continues:
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with all you forever.  This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees it nor yet knows it. You know it, because it is among you, and it will be in you.
David Ewart in Holy Textures, notes that the Greek word for Truth (as in ‘Spirit of Truth’) is  A-lethea – from Lethe (the river in Hades people drank from to forget their past) and ‘a’, meaning ‘not’, so literally, what is translated as ‘truth’ means ‘not forgetting’.

Truth thus understood is to be alive, truly alive, to be aware, present, not in a stupor, not merely putting one foot in front of the other . . . it is the buoyancy, the bounce, the quickening of the budding flower bursting in to bloom in response to the radiance of the live-giving sun.

The Holy Spirit thus understood is that of God within each and all of us which calls us back to God . . . reminds us of all that is true, all that is real . . . keeps us remembering God and our call to God and God’s work in the world.
“I will not leave you bereft; I am entering you.  In a little while the world will no longer behold me, but you are beholding me; because I am living, you also will live.  On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.  
Through the Holy Spirit, our reality is that God, very-God dwells within and moves without us.  Trials and tragedies are real, but God’s very presence puts them in their proper context – nothing separates us from God and God’s presence, which is God’s Truth.  We live in a reality of God-beholding.
The one who has my laws and attends to them – that is the one loving me; and the one loving me will be loved by my Father, and I shall be loving him and shall be appearing to him myself.”
“Jesus made a promise then that is still alive today. . . the sum total of how to claim a full life in the face of the fear, terror, panic, isolation, loss, and grief that comes simply from living, that comes simply by the very nature of our existence in this world. . . His word to us is to trust in the abiding presence and love of God, which is unceasing, and to remember we are never alone, no matter what.” – Anna Hosemann Butler, Patheos, 5/25/14

A deathbed declaration made across time and space rings out thousands of years later in our hearts with its promise which we claim over and over and over again . . . Left not alone, we are made strong in ways we could never have imagined . . . Invested with love, we are made caring in ways that change a world . . . Left with work yet to be done, we are prepared to the tasks at hand . . . Left with the ever-present reminder of God’s Holy Spirit, we never forget who we are or what we are about.  

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