GOSPEL: John 14:23-29
The holy gospel according to John the 14th chapter.
Glory to you, O Lord.
As Jesus talks of returning to the Father, he promises to send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, who will teach Jesus’ followers and remind them of all that Jesus taught. Even more, those in whom God makes a home will experience a peace that overcomes fear.
23Jesus answered [Judas (not Iscariot),] “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. 24Whoever 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.
25“I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26But 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. 27Peace 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. 28You 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. 29And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.”
We hear in scriptures that Christ will come and make his home among us. I think homemaking gets a bad rap these days. If one says that they are a homemaker there may be an assumption, they can’t or don’t do anything else. When the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. When I was just a little older than Vivian, my mother had my sister, and stayed home with us. I had many playmates whose mothers worked, and one day I lamented to my mother my pity for her, that there wasn’t anything she could do but stay home and take care of us. Perhaps if she tried something she could have a job too! Unbeknownst to me, she already had a 12 year career in teaching and was working towards a master’s degree in biology when I came along…
And in all reality, homemaking often requires one to have the skills of an accountant, a manager, a nurse, a teacher, and an engineer.
Both a businesswoman and a homemaker, Lydia’s example of discipleship has much to teach the church today. She not only provides a ministry of hospitality, welcoming travelers into her home and providing a safe and welcoming space for believers – but administration and leadership and financial stewardship for the growing Christian church, the new mission start, the first on the European continent.
Women of the church not only have a biblical basis for providing generous hospitality, but also administration, leadership, financial stewardship and more. There are women in scripture who teach and proclaim the Word. There are women in scripture who prophesy, and there are women in scripture who pass on the faith to their children. But many couldn’t name one of those women, because historically as the church limited women’s leadership, perhaps it was a little awkward to bring up….
But let’s not limit it to women, making a home is a skill that anyone can have, but it takes work and intentional relational effort. Getting things just right for those who live there, providing not just shelter, but love within the home, nourishment, and peace. Who is putting forth the effort to make a home according to John’s Gospel? God is. God will come and God will make a home. A home with his children is the end Goal as we know from the Book of Revelation.
We hear that God will make his home with us, but what does that look like in our lives today – What furniture and standing priorities might have to be moved around in your life in order for Christ to dwell there? What memories and moments of grace need to be recalled and displayed in order to keep receiving that gift of peace? What needs to be part of our daily routines in order to perceive the spirit’s presence in our lives? Our lives and faith practices today both help us to perceive Jesus at home with us now and prepare for the future time when God will make his home with us.
But in order for Jesus to come again with the Father, he must first leave. As a parent leaves a crying child, Jesus spends a chapter or more comforting them, and reassuring them, that what they believe is still true and in the immortal words of Daniel Striped Tiger, “Grown-ups come back”
And he will not leave them orphaned, because he promises that the Father is sending the Advocate, in Jesus name, to be with the disciples.
Advocate is the Paraclete. A helper, teacher, caretaker, and reminder. It’s not an easily translated word but became a word describing a legal counselor. Some time ago, I read the best translation I had heard in a while – Babysitter. Now, it may not seem like much to you, but babysitters are important and life changing for little ones. A good babysitter is a friend, a teacher, an advocate, a helper, and a reminder of the parents’ love. Children are safe and loved with a babysitter until the parents return, they are doted on, and given gifts, and they play special games, and important attention is paid to them, until mommy and daddy are back.
I don’t know that the Holy Spirit has ever been compared to a babysitter. But if you can imagine Jesus as a parent, comforting his children, then it may not be so hard to imagine the Spirit in this other role, as one who cares for the church in the interim between Jesus’ departure and return, as one who comforts, teaches, reminds and gives gifts to the children of God. Doting on them and paying special attention to them.
In our text, the Paraclete will teach us “everything” and remind us of “all” that Jesus has said to us. I don’t think that it is too much of a stretch to say that the Paraclete “helps” us to hear Jesus’ word — which, as I noted above, brings the continuing presence of Jesus and his Father to us. The Paraclete reveals Jesus to us, but those without the help of the Paraclete will not properly hear or remember the word of Jesus’ presence. And I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve quoted this from the small catechism in my sermons, but it just fits every occasion. I believe that by my own understanding and strengthen I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him, but instead the Holy Spirit has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, made me holy, and kept me in the true faith – just as he calls gathers, enlightens and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one common, true faith.
Like children who seemingly never listen to their parents but may take heed of wisdom from another caring grown-up. The spirit nudges us and helps us discern; the spirit points us to the right frequency to hear God’s word to us. However, any human translation of the Holy Spirit’s work limits the Spirit’s movement, and constrains it to just one thing, even as we confess that the Father Son and Holy Spirit are One God in three persons. The Holy Spirit, despite the names we may give her or adjectives to describe her moves freely, unencumbered by our language.
It is the movement of the holy spirit that brings us the peace of Christ, even in moments of crisis, conflict, or grief. This peace is a gift of God, something we sense most keenly when we give over to God a certain amount of control of all the things that we worry about or normally pressure. Not that we surrender responsibility, but rather that we recognize there are limits to what we can affect or achieve on our own, and knowing those limits, we place ourselves, our loved ones, our fortunes, and our future in God’s hands. And God’s response is to give us peace, a peace that allows us to lift our gaze from crisis, conflict, or grief of the moment, and still recognize Christ’s presence among us, and the needs of God’s children around us.