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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Today’s Reading | John 14:15–31

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This 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.

“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 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.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.

“I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us be on our way.” (NRSV)

One of my favorite lines from literature is from Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 2: “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” It’s a beautiful reminder of the heaviness that responsibility can bring—a weight that comes from having to decide the limits of our freedom.

When I hit the age of middle school, I began to insist to my parents that I no longer needed a babysitter when they went out. I was perfectly capable of fending for myself and for my sister, the argument went. Eventually I hit an age where my parents relented, and thus I found myself in charge of my sister one Friday night.

Those of you hoping for a tale in which I burned the house down will be disappointed; my crisis of leadership was far more mundane. Instead, I was shocked by how confusing it was to be seen as an authority figure: I had to order dinner (so many options!), pick the right TV show (obviously my show), put my sister to bed at the right time, and make sure the house was all locked up when I went to bed. I probably would have preferred a babysitter by the end!

The depth of responsibility that Jesus hands to the disciples in this passage is staggering. They will be responsible for carrying on his message to the world, he says, with the help of the Holy Spirit. It’s not hard to imagine the disciples having serious reservations about this—they’d no doubt prefer that Jesus continue to lead. But in this season of Eastertide, we remember that we have the heavy blessing of being Christ’s body in the world now. It is a great responsibility—but it is only through our practice of love that we truly learn what love means.

Dear God, thank you for the trust that you have placed in me to be your servant in this world. Help me show your love through the power of your Spirit, in order that I might better know what it means to follow you. Amen.

Written by Matt Helms, Minister for Children and Families

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