Saturday, May 16, 2020

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."

COVID-19 again

Anyone know Carly Simon's song Anticipation?

"We can never know about the days to come, but we think about them anyway."

Whatever the subject or situation, we never know what's next, yet we still think about it. I don't know if "we" in Carly's song is the royal we, the deferential we, or simply every single one of us. (Except when they have actual information from the creator of a song, most song meanings sites make random, often stupid guesses.) In this global corona virus pandemic, there is no us and them. Concerning susceptibility, regarding care for neighbors next door or on the other side of the world, as we look into future days to come, there's only us, we, our, ours. Theirs is ours. What's mine is yours. As disciples of Jesus, can we live and lead during this time of suffering and uncertainty in ways that heal and truly bring us together?

Today's gospel reading assures us we can live and lead and help heal. Together.


God of constant presence, God of resurrection promise, we bless you for welcoming our praise and heeding our prayers, for staying alongside us with your steadfast love. Thank you again for first responders and essential workers; please keep them healthy and safe. Thank you for breaking down real and imagined divisions and barriers between them and us. Thank you for the written word that reveals you as God of the promised land, but also as God of wilderness, God of exile, God of pain and loss wherever it happens.

In the name of Jesus, who calls us friends, who in the Holy Spirit of Life calls and enables us to live as comforters to our neighbors.

cf: Psalm 66; Acts 17; John 14


quilt comforter

On my main blog, desert spirit's fire! I almost never post without at least one picture. This blog's purpose and personality are different, but I couldn't resist an illustration this week. Keep reading!

Easter is 50 Days

The Great Fifty Days of Easter are almost over—Easter is a week of weeks (7 x 7). The sixth Sunday of Easter is day 36 of 50. The third of the church's great trinitarian festivals, the Day of Pentecost, is the fiftieth day of Easter.

John's Gospel

Each of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke that view Jesus' ministry in a somewhat similar manner) has its own lectionary year. John's gospel doesn't, although during the shortest gospel Mark's year we hear a lot of John, and for the Great Fifty Days of Easter during all three years the gospel readings are mostly from John.

John is the gospel of God's abiding presence in Jesus Christ. This good news we received from the community gathered around Jesus' beloved disciple John offers ways to live faithfully and fruitfully with speech and action that make a difference in the world. With the gift of the Holy Spirit we receive in baptism, we live as God's abiding, comforting presence in the world.

The Sixth Sunday of Easter

• John chapters 13 through 17 sometimes are known as Jesus' Farewell Discourses.

Today's gospel reading happens in the upper room of Maundy Thursday after Jesus washed the disciples' feet. In this passage, Jesus promises to send "another advocate." Jesus says anyone who loves him will keep the commandments; Jesus promises to love and reveal himself to those who love him. In today's text Jesus promises the gift of the Holy Spirit, but four weeks ago we read about Jesus bestowing the Holy Spirit on the evening of the first Easter Day when we celebrated Easter 2:

This year's notes from Easter 2

However, the lectionary people scheduled today's scripture about Jesus' Maundy Thursday promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit for late in the season of Easter. Maybe because two weeks from today, we'll celebrate the Day of Pentecost with the account of the Holy Spirit filling the world? By the way, that event also happens in the upper room. The same room as Maundy Thursday and Easter evening? Not sure.

Have You Heard this Story?

Grandma couldn't get to church one Sunday, so she asked her granddaughter to listen carefully and tell her what the pastor preached. When granddaughter got home, grandma asked what the pastor talked about. Grandkid replied, "Don't worry! You will get your quilt!"

Presence. Comfort. Accompaniment.

16"I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate, to be with you forever."

Jesus promises to send the advocate or paraclete, a word for the Holy Spirit that's unique to John.

Para means beside, next to, alongside. Clesis /clete means call, called. Paraclete in Greek is the same as advocate in Latin: ad means beside; vocare means call, called.

Jesus was the first paraclete, the original called-along-side, so he promises to send "another," additional one.

Paraclete / advocate has a legal dimension as public defender, defense attorney, lawyer for the accused. Just as here and now, in Jesus' day if you went to trial and didn't have your own attorney, the court would appoint a paraclete to defend you. Beyond the legal definition, a paraclete is about general comfort, protection, counsel, and guidance—all wrapped up in God's presence the same way a cozy quilt or comforter wraps us up. This paraclete Jesus promises is on our side and has our back. We won't fall!

Translations/interpretations include comforter, helper, advocate, counselor, solicitor, attorney…The Message reads "another friend." Friend implies unranked equality, intimacy, one knows what the other does. Common English Bible [CEB] says companion, someone we break bread with. Ever notice what a leveling experience sharing a meal or a snack with a person is? How eating at the same table often is the start of real friendship? Sitting beside each other at Sunday brunch?

Like a keyboard accompaniment to a vocal or instrumental solo or choir anthem, the Holy Spirit accompanies us. Similar to breaking bread along side a companion (with+bread=com+panion).

King James [KJV] language parallels Jesus promising not to leave us comfort-less after he promises to send another comforter.

• The Comforter will stay with us forever: what does comforter and forever mean for us?

• As people who receive the Holy Spirit at baptism, God calls us to comfort, help, advocate for others. What are some ways that happens? Being a cozy blanket or quilt without hovering too closely and smothering the person?

Comfort, Presence, COVID-19, Resurrection

Especially at this time, everyone in the world needs comfort, solace, and reassurance. Engulfed by a demon that continues to kill too many people, an intruder with a multiplier effect on every aspect of the economy, every corner of our lives, we need help! Comfort! A friend! A defense attorney! And we need new life out of death!

The Holy Spirit that wraps us up in comforting hugs is the Holy Spirit of resurrection that raised Jesus from death to life. To be resurrected? You first need to be dead! Gimme Jesus!

• What does resurrection mean to you?

• Jesus has many titles or names (Savior, Redeemer, Lord, King, Rabbi); what title would you give the Holy Spirit?

Verses 17, 18, 19: Worlds & Orphans

In the New Testament, two different words typically get translated as "world." Here in John 14:17, 19, world/cosmos means this planet, a physical space; it also can refer to people, institutions, and structures that do not know or obey God. John 14:18 – when Jesus promises not to leave us orphans, the Greek is the same as our word for orphan. Orphan is another legal term: a minor without living parents, or someone whose parents have abandoned them.

• Jesus will not leave us orphans or abandon us? What does that promise feel like to you?

Keeping the Commandments

Today's reading from John's Gospel begins and ends with love, commandments, and obedience. The fulfillment of God's promises depends upon God's free, unearned gifts of grace; they also depend upon our obedience.

John 14:15If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

verses 15, 21 love, love, loved, love = agape, the word for love the NT uses for God's unconditional love

verse 21 appear, make manifest, reveal = same as epiphany

• What does Jesus mean when he tells us he and the Father will love and reveal themselves to those who love him?

• "If you love me…" What is the connection between love and obedience?

For Consideration Now or Later

John 14:15If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

Martin Luther begins his Small Catechism, traditional preparation for God's gift of First Communion, with the Ten Commandments.

• But aren't the sacraments all about grace, about gift?

• What does it mean to obey Jesus?

• Are Jesus' demands different from or the same as the ten words or commandment of the Sinai Covenant? Why? How?

• Matthew 19:16-22 the rich young ruler

"What must I do to inherit eternal life?" and Jesus answers, "keep the commandments" with the demands of the Sinai covenant.

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

After Jesus sends out the seventies, tells them share the peace; tell people God's reign has come near, shake the dust off; after Satan falling from heaven…

• Luke 10:25-37 Jesus asks the legal eagle, "What do you read in the law?" After the lawyer answers, "love God, neighbor, and self," Jesus responds to "…and who is my neighbor" with the parable of Good Samaritan.

To be saved, made whole, have integrity, be alive as part of the common wealth, we must keep the commandments that are God's working papers or guidelines for our lives together. None of us is fully saved or redeemed until everyone is. No one has fullness of shalom until all creation does.

• What is the connection between obedience and freedom?

• What is the connection between faith and action?

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