Monday, May 14, 2007

someone else to remind you

John 14:23-29

"I have said these things to you while I'm still with you..." John's Gospel sets these words in the middle of the last supper... a long string of "if you love me, do this... and this... and this."

Yet we are reading these words a few days before the Ascension. It makes sense. Jesus could easily be preparing his disciples for his absence once again. When he tried that before they didn't get it. Will they get it this time? Probably not.

Think of the emotional roller coaster his followers have been riding over the last month: a triumphal entry into the Holy City... hoards screaming "hosanna!" only to be replaced by hoards screaming "crucify him!" The actual crucifixion, (which most of them did not witness) followed by news of a resurrection. Too much too soon. Now what? He's leaving AGAIN?

When someone we love has to leave us, no matter what the reason, there is a sense of loss. Stay! Don't go! When someone leaves that we expect to come back, and they don't, there is a sense of guilt. If only I had known, I'd have said goodbye. I'd have told them I loved them.

Jesus is specific about that. Okay... if you love me, here's what you do: you treat each other with the dignity you'd use if it were me. You'll be willing servants to each other. And while I won't be here to remind you, I'll send someone else to remind you... and you'll remember. You'll remember what I said, what I did, and if you love me, you'll do the same.

The advocate, the comforter, the Holy Spirit can take a variety of forms. She isn't going to look like a bird every time she appears. Just as we sometimes see Christ in the eyes of another human being, we also can feel the spirit moving through us to do what Jesus commanded.

Love, forgive, heal, feed, serve. It is God you serve, no matter who it is, no matter if they drive you crazy or annoy the hell out of you. "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives."

In other words, this peace, this gift, makes no common sense by the world's standards. In the midst of your daily grind, you'll easily forget. But God is sending someone else to remind you...

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