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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Today’s Reading | John 14:18–31                

“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)

In the midst of the final teachings that Jesus shares with his disciples, he promises them the gift of the Holy Spirit: “I will not leave you orphaned, I am coming to you.” Later he says, “It is for your own good that I am going, because unless I go, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7).

It is difficult to lose a loved one whose presence on earth we cherish. Yet Jesus gives us comfort and hope by promising that his Spirit comes, and that Jesus’ absence is even better for us. We are nurtured by our memory of him and by the indwelling of his Spirit.

Henri Nouwen wrote in The Living Reminder, “One of the mysteries of life is that memory can often bring us closer to each other than physical presence. . . . In memory we are able to be in touch with each other’s spirit, with that reality in each other which enables an always deepening communication. . . . Memory also clarifies, purifies, brings into focus, and calls to the foreground hidden gifts.”

The sustaining power of memory becomes most visible in God’s revelation in Jesus Christ. Jesus revealed to his closest followers that only in memory will real intimacy with him be possible. Only in memory will they experience the full meaning of what they had witnessed. God entered into intimacy with us not only by Christ’s coming, but by his leaving. Nouwen wrote, “It is in Christ’s absence that our intimacy with him is so profound that we can say he dwells in us, call him our food and drink, and experience him as the center of our being.”

Thank you, Jesus, for sending us your Spirit, so we may know and love you. Amen.

Written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission

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