McFarland

Sixth Sunday of Easter May 16/17, 2020

Readings

First Reading: Acts 17:22-31
Psalm 66:8-20
Second Reading:1 Peter 3:13-22

Gospel: John 14:15-21

Prayer of the Day:

Almighty and ever-living God, you hold together all things in heaven and on earth. In your great mercy receive the prayers of all your children, and give to the world the Spirit of your truth and peace, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Hymns of the Day

If you don’t have hymnals at home,
look up the hymns on YouTube or other websites.

We Know That Christ Is Raised (ELW 449)

Christ Is Alive (ELW 389)

Thy Holy Wings (ELW 613)

Children of the Heavenly Father (ELW 781)

How Great Is Our God Chris Tomlin

Reflection on John 14:15-21

by Pastor Tim Dean

This is our second Sunday in a row with Jesus’ farewell speech. It’s called the “Farewell Discourse” because Jesus speaks powerfully to his disciples to prepare them for his crucifixion and resurrection, and for their life together without his physical presence. Last week, Pastor Kelli introduced this goodbye speech by reminding us that Jesus speaks to our fears and uncertainties about the future.

Today, Jesus introduces a major theme in this farewell speech. “I will ask the Father,” he says, “and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth… You know him because he abides with you, and he will be in you.” (14:16-17)

Jesus promises another Advocate. The first Advocate, Jesus means himself.

This next Advocate is literally the “Paraclete”—one who comes along side of you. Jesus’ beautiful description of the Spirit/Paraclete is only found here in the Gospel of John, and it is rich in meaning. Sometimes the name is translated: Helper, Comforter, Counselor, Encourager. I think it’s wonderful to have so many images and words for the Paraclete—they speak to us differently at different seasons in our lives.

I am partial to the translation of Advocate. An advocate is someone who speaks up for you, who takes your case, who seeks your wellness, who cares deeply about you and knows you better than yourself. Perhaps traditionally we think of the Advocate as the One who intercedes before God for us—because we have fallen short, who makes our case before God.

But David Lose helped me to see this turned around. It is the Advocate who brings God to us. Not the Spirit taking us up to God, but bring God to us, right alongside of us.

“The Spirit is the one who comes to remind us of our identity as children of God, as sheep who recognize the voice of our shepherd, those for whom the shepherd lays down his life. [This] is a hard identity to believe is really ours, especially when we are stressed or frightened, unsure about the future and it feels like everything has been turned upside down.” (David Lose, “In the Meantime” blog, 5/14/20)

The Advocate is Jesus’ promise in scary and uncertain times, that God will be with us to remind us of our true identity. The Advocate abides with us, and in us.

We need this reassuring promise of the Advocate in this uncertain time.

The world we have known has been pulled up from under us. We don’t know when the virus will go away, or what life will look like next week or next month. We are all experiencing quarantine fatigue, fear and grief over what we have lost. There is so much anxiety that we can’t imagine our future as God’s people.

Yet in this, we have Jesus’ promise that we are not orphaned. We have an Advocate who is with us and will be with us. This promise gives us hope that we are joined by more than we could have imagined. We are joined by the One who brings God and God’s love, mercy and grace right down to us.

I want to share with you today how I have felt this Advocate within our faith community over these last 2 months. The Advocate is here when we support and encourage each other during on-line worship. The Advocate is here when you so graciously understand the “train wrecks” when this on-line worship goes awry.

The Advocate is here when we pray for each other with texts, cards, emails and phone calls. The Advocate comes alongside us when we are ill and need the expertise of a caring nurse, doctor or therapist.

Although not meeting in-person is difficult and continues to be difficult, we are not church because we are physically close. We are church because of Jesus’ promise that the Advocate is here, alongside of us. This Advocate brings God to our sorrows, joys, relationships, and ministries—and makes us one.

I have an assignment for us this week. Read our Gospel lesson from John, and pick your favorite word or your bible translation’s word for the Paraclete. Advocate, Comforter, Counselor, Helper, Truth, Guide. So many to choose from!

Then reflect on and name the ways you have experienced this powerful promise that we are not alone, but the Paraclete is with us and in us. Email me or Pastor Kelli and let us know what you discover. We’d love to hear from you!

Jesus promises that he will not leave us orphaned. He has sent another Advocate to remain with us forever and remind us that we are loved beyond compare.

Thanks be to our Advocate God, alongside of us forever.

Amen.

Let Us Pray

. Thank you, Advocating Spirit, for being with your church forever. Thank you for the ways you remind us of our identity as beloved children of God, and our call to love our neighbors as ourselves. Bring protection and safety to all healthcare workers, and to all others who work in unsafe conditions. Surround with your comforting, healing presence those who have COVID-19 or other illnesses, and all who are lonely and grieving. We trust that you are with us. In the name of the Crucified and Risen One, Jesus Christ. Amen.