Jul 16th: The Shy One, with Rev. J. Bradford Kent.
A Part of the Series:
The Shy One with Rev. J. Bradford Kent. Series: One Thing A Spacious Christianity, First Presbyterian Church of Bend, Oregon. Scripture: John 14:15-18; 16:12-17.
This Sunday, guest pastor Rev. J. Bradford Kent reminds us that Jesus told his disciples that although he will leave them, they will not be alone or orphaned because they will have the Holy Spirit to guide, support, and enable them to continue Jesus’ work on earth.
Greetings in the name of Lord Jesus Christ. I welcome you to this time together. My name is Brad Kent, I am the interim pastor before Stephen Kosti team. I’ve had a very career, both working both in the United States and in Scotland and Mexico and Bolivia, and other places. And we haven’t settled. And then my wife Ali, and I have two children and grandchildren who live in Eugene. And we’re soon going to be moving and joining them there.
Our scripture lesson today comes from John, the 16th 15th and 60s chapters. Let us listen for the Word of God. If you love me, you will keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever. This is the spirit of truth. I will not leave you orphaned. I’m coming to you. On that day you will know that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me, and then me in you. When the Spirit comes, she will guide you into all truth. For she will not speak on her own, but will speak what ever she hears. And she will declare to you the things that are to come. She will glorify me because she will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is Mine. And for that reason, she will take what is mine and give it to you. May God add his blessing to this reading from the word.
Emotions are running high that evening. Jesus gathers the disciples in a roof top room, he knows that his days on earth are numbered. So with those closest to him, they share a meal, not just any meal, but the Passover meal when they like all Jews before them. Remember God’s greatest gift of salvation, God’s deliverance from Egyptian slavery. Each Passover holds the promise that God will do this again, God will free them from whoever holds them captive. From the disciples perspective, things have gone very, very well this last week. They’re on a high after the events that have just transpired. Jesus is written into Jerusalem on a donkey. Like the promise, Prince of Peace would do. Crowds cheered him along the way, ecstatically waving palm branches and throwing garments before him. Then he had threatened the treasury of the temple by throwing out those who are exchanging money at a user’s rate. He vigorously debated with some of the religious authorities, making them look foolish and they were furious. They hadn’t liked him from the very beginning, when they learned of what he was doing up in Galilee. And now in Jerusalem, the citadel of their religion, it is more than they could take. He is a threat to them to all that is high and holy. They wanted him dead in Jerusalem that week, all the hopes and fears about Jesus that had been building and building over time, are now coming to a boil. Maybe the disciples thought this was the moment, the time when Jesus would do what the disciples had hoped he would do. Since they first followed him. There is hope that he will establish the long awaited kingdom of God. The Passover is usually a joyous meal, the celebration of the Passover, but Jesus is serious, knowing what lies ahead He needs to draw his ministry to a close. And as they gather around that table, Jesus would told him again and again, that he was going to the Father and gentle way he was saying that he would die. No, not just die, but be crucified. They hadn’t believed him. When he said that before, would they believe him now? He left no doubt. He was leaving them. Yes, he was going, and he would no longer be with him.
But what was going to happen to them when he is gone? Although not spoken out loud. Jesus knew that this was what his disciples were thinking, what’s going to happen to us? How are we going to get along without him? Without the one we gave up every thing? Our families, our livelihood, everything to follow him for three years, the one who has taught us so much about God, God’s reign and rule, the one who has been showing us what that reign and rule would be like? How are we going to get along without Jesus? Now all of us have had an experience similar to this. We lose someone important in our lives, someone on whom we depend someone we’d love. And we wonder, how will we get along without them? In my 60, plus years of ministry, I’ve been with many people who’ve had that experience. For example, a husband, who’s been the breadwinner in the family dies, and his young wife and three kids find their grief intensified as they face life without him. Or this single mom, who has raised two children almost to adulthood, finds out that she has a fact Fast, fast acting cancer. And when she dies, there will be no money to send the eldest to college. My own father’s unexpected death when I was 11, I wasn’t able to grieve, because I was asking myself over and over again, what’s to become of us, my mother, my twin brother and me. How are we going to get along without our dad, for a long time, I felt alone, a drift and abandon. This must have been how the disciples felt, knowing that Jesus would no longer be there with him, alone, adrift, abandon. But Jesus answered that question of how the disciples will get along without him, he tells them that they will not be left orphan, they will not be abandoned, because they will have the Holy Spirit. He says, I will ask the Father, and He will give you another, to be with you. The Spirit of truth, even though he’s leaving them, He will not leave them, they will not be on their own. The spirit will be his powerful personal resonance with them forever. The spirit will keep him alive in their lives. In Greek, the original language of the New Testament, the word for the Holy Spirit is para collectors, which literally means one that stands beside or walks beside you, one who will support you and advocate on your behalf. One who makes it possible for you to say or do what other what must be said or done. The spirit will initiate and enable the disciples to do what he Jesus will do. They will be Jesus continuing presence, wherever they are. I hope it’s not too much to say not that they will be like Jesus, but they will be him.
One quick but important footnote. The Holy Spirit does not replace Jesus. It is not the case. When the Spirit is present. Jesus is absent The Spirit keeps us close to him, to Jesus united with Him. We need to be aware that as he speaks in that upper room, Jesus life on earth will soon be over. To state it bluntly, the Incarnation Gods living a human life, the event that we celebrated Christmas and until Easter that is over. But it’s not the end of our life with Jesus, Jesus wives continues through the limitless power of the Spirit. The human limitations respecting Jesus are no longer an impediment. Jesus is no longer limited to one time, one place one people, Jesus is to use Richard roars now familiar phrase, he is the universal Christ. As such, he has no limitations. For the possibilities for him, now appear endless. Though, through the Holy Spirit, the risen Christ, although no longer physically present, can be with us and be on that he can be present through us continually, he can walk by our side, the spirit is everywhere. The spirit was there, the moment of creation, when she breathed across the water of chaos, and the world came into existence. Indeed, all that is seen and unseen, has come into existence. God’s creative power, and all places at all times. Will waves was there through the Spirit? What does this all mean to us? In our situation? I need to go back to the openings of our Gospel lesson. Jesus says, If you love me, you will keep my commandment out what commandment is this? Jesus provides a succinct summary. When he says, the first and greatest commandment is You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And the second is like that. You should love your neighbor as yourself. How is it possible to do that? How could we love our enemies who don’t even like us? How could the disciples possibly do that? Possible? Because they, because we have the Holy Spirit. This is the parting gift to all who believe in trust in Him. Now, I’ll be honest, I’m worried that we don’t pay much attention to this gift. St. Paul and one of his letters, ask the recipients Don’t you know that you have the Holy Spirit? I think he might be asking the same thing. US Don’t you know, that he has love that you have the Holy Spirit. I think it’s a bit like that sweater at Jane gave you for Christmas, that you didn’t really light and you put it on the top shelf and forgotten about it. That Holy Spirit simply doesn’t play a big part in our lives. Why is this so? Well, one reason may be that the spirit is subtle. Let me put it to you this way. The Holy Spirit is the neglected member of the Trinity. We praise God the Creator, we adore Jesus Christ. Yet by comparison, the Holy Spirit gets little attention. For example, in both the Nicene Creed’s and apostolic Creed’s, we profess faith in God and Jesus Christ. But the Holy Spirit gets one quick line before moving to other things we believe in. One commentator calls the spirit, the shy one, because she doesn’t call attention to herself. Her work just isn’t as conspicuous as the work of Jesus. But in today’s lesson, Jesus lifts her up. There is more to the Christian experience than celebrating Jesus birth following his ministry, grieving his crucifixion and rejoicing at the empty tomb. There is the work of the Spirit, in and through the disciples in and through us. Throughout the centuries, those Christians who have not seen Jesus in person Like us, are said, to believe in Him without having seen him. Don’t get me wrong, Jesus can still be encountered. And this is the work of the Spirit. When I agreed to preach while Stephen was on sabbatical, he made this suggestion that if you could only choose one scripture and deliver one message, what is the one thing the congregation needs to hear, to live creatively, courageously and compassionately in these changing times? That one thing for me is to remember that Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit. Accept, embrace the spirit. Allow her to grace to guard and to guide you, and to Grace guard and guide Jesus Church.
This is the thing that we should embrace the spirit. Live in the spirit, laugh in the Spirit, and above all, love in the Spirit. The Spirit is our constant companion and now to God our Creator and to Christ, our sovereign Savior, and to the Holy Spirit. We all glory now and for ever. Amen.