Monday, May 22, 2017

Easter 6A

John 14:15-21

15"If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

18"I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21They 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."

Backtracking from last week, Easter 5A:

This is very shorthand and somewhat crude, but also broadly accurate.

As I've been saying... John is the Gospel of Abiding Presence. John's gospel almost didn't make the canonical cut! The community the beloved disciple John founded conveys a different worldview from the synoptic gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

In contrast to John, despite each of them conveying at least some unique content and a particular perspective, you could say the synoptic gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke all bring us law and gospel – God's holy demands and God's mercy-filled, loving grace. We roughly can place the synoptics in the tradition of the first two parts of the Old Testament, Torah / Pentateuch and Prophets.

The third section of the canon of the Hebrew bible includes Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Psalms, Job, Ruth, Lamentations, Daniel, Song of Solomon... similar to that Writings tradition of the third part of the Hebrew Bible that we sometimes refer to as wisdom literature, John's community offers ways to live faithfully and fruitfully with speech and action that make a difference in the world—"God's abiding presence" in creation, rather than the articulation of law and gospel we find in the synoptics and in the apostle Paul's undisputed epistles.

Today's RCL text:

Easter is Fifty Days; the sixth Sunday of Easter is day 36 / 50. Last week we discussed some of Jesus' farewell discourse, including his telling the disciples they'd do greater works than he had done. Jesus never stopped talking, though our discussion ended. Today's gospel passage continues in the upper room of Maundy Thursday after Jesus had washed the disciples' feet. After Maundy Thursday, we've experience Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter, We're already more than a calendar month after the day of resurrection; besides, in today's text Jesus promises the gift of the Holy Spirit, but we already read that narrative that happened on the evening of the first Easter Day as we celebrated Easter 2.

John, the gospel of Jesus' abiding presence and of our abiding presence in creation in the power of the Holy Spirit, essentially brings us the commandment to love. But at the start of our reading for today, Jesus tells us, "If you love me, you will keep the commandments." It concludes with, "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."

Parallel this to:

• the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-22 – what must I do to inherit eternal life, and Jesus's keep the commandments response with the demands of the Sinai covenant.

• and Mark 10:17-22 where Jesus tells the rich guy, "You know the commandments" and does a basic short list.

• with the lawyer in Luke 10:25-37 that happens after Jesus sends out the seventies, tells them share the peace; Kingdom has come near you, shake the dust off; after Satan falling from heaven... Jesus asks the expert on the law "What do you read in the law?" After love God, neighbor, and self, Jesus responds to "who is my neighbor" with the parable of Good Sam.

To be saved, made whole, have integrity, be alive as part of the commonwealth, we must obey the commandments because none of us is saved, redeemed, no one has shalom until all creation does. Hebrew bible scholar Walter Brueggemann reminds us Life first must be a gift before life is a task.

Although we already discussed Jesus' sending the HS on the evening of the first Easter, we could call today's reading, "You will get your quilt!" Jesus promises to send the paraclete, that in Greek means called (clesis) beside /alongside (para). But translations can include comforter, advocate, counselor, solicitor, attorney... all wrapped up in the assurance of God's presence in the same way a cozy quilt or comforter wraps us up.

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