Thursday, 21 May 2015

Pentecost Sunday - Year B
John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15                                                                   

There’s a case to be made.  Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit - whom he will send once he has ascended to his Father in heaven - as the Advocate.  It’s one translation of the Greek word Paraclete and within the reading from John’s Gospel on this Pentecost Sunday is the one that seems to make the most sense.  There is a case to be made - and a world to be “brought around” and convinced of the truth of God revealed in Jesus.  This work, it seems, will need to be carried on even amongst the saints of God and even among the disciples gathered with Jesus in the upper room doing this long discourse which we have been reading now for several Sundays.  Paraclete is sometimes translated “Comforter” or “Encourager” because the work of the Spirit of God is going on amongst us as well.  Today’s reading follows closely Jesus’ earnest plea to his disciples to remain attached to him - as closely as branches are attached to the vine.   One can become cut off and isolated.  It seems that we too are at risk of straying away.  There is a case to be made - even to us.

Do you sense it?  You have struggled with that yawning sense that there were other choices for you to make and that you have strayed from where you know you needed to be.  You read about Christ’s people being called “from” the world to a new life with all its fullness. You may look around and find that the life you’re leading right now is a pretty predictable biological progression from childhood to youth to adulthood and eventual senescence.  It was not to be that way.  How did it happen?

While all this matters very much - this state of affairs which could provoke uncertainty, tears or regret - I want you to concentrate on what Jesus is promising us in these chapters of John’s Gospel.  What Jesus promises the world and his servants in the world who find themselves at risk, is that he will not leave them alone.  The story is not over for the sheep who is lost.  It is not Christ’s will that we find ourselves shipwrecked, sidetracked, handed over to our own appetites, lost, frustrated or misled.  “I will not leave you as orphans” Jesus said to us (John 14:18).  Will he bring to mind what is painfully amiss?    Of course.  The language is one of struggle as our will and our priorities come into focus.  Be encouraged.  Be comforted.  Above all, be seized by Christ’s words and listen!   The advocate is speaking.  There is a case to be made!