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     This Week's Focus: "Truth and Beauty"
         Click Link for John 14:15-21
   


    
 








 

 Dear Friends,
 
In this perilous time pandemic, it is heartening to bear in mind that Easter is the season of never-ending beginnings. Ahead of us lies Christ’s Ascension into heaven… and beyond that the Descent of the Holy Spirit. Ahead of the confused and frightened apostles lies a courageous ministry of spreading the gospel across the earth. And ahead of generations of Christians lie centuries of working and waiting… faithfully building the kingdom of God, ‘til Christ calls us home. The wait has been long. Doubtless, it will be longer. But Jesus promises that the wait will not be lonely, assuring us that: I will not leave you orphaned.

Help is here right now. Jesus pledges that: I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate. Christ has alluded to the Holy Spirit before. But this time he gives the Holy Spirit a job description: The Advocate… one who counsels and defends.

And with this revelation, he gives us a window into Divine nature. The Father is the Creator. The Son is the Redeemer. They are familiar and relatively easy roles to visualize. Think of all the images we have of Jesus… from blessed babe to miracle worker… from sacred victim to risen Savior. Then picture the Father. For me, the definitive image will always be Michelangelo’s dynamic Creator giving life to the languid Adam. But spirits are another story.

Our only pictures of the Holy Spirit are that of a descending dove or a tongue of fire. It’s all very sketchy imagery at best. And because we are such visual learners, we have difficulty understanding the nature and the role of the Holy Spirit.

Yet, despite our relative unfamiliarity, we ignore the Holy Spirit at our peril. This is not some obscure supporting character in the scriptural narrative. As Christ tells us, even though: the world neither sees him or knows him; the Holy Spirit is the abiding presence of God in our lives. In sending the Spirit of Truth, Jesus leaves us with a moral compass… perfectly aligned with the will of God because the Holy Spirit is God… one with the Father and the Son.

From personal experience with human nature, Jesus knows that life can seem long; memories can be faulty; flesh can be weak. We need a lot of help. Thankfully, the Resurrection is a continuation, not a culmination. It is not merely a historical event and a sacred mystery. It is an abiding presence in our lives. That’s why the risen Christ tells us that the Holy Spirit will not only be with us, he will be in us. And the more we think and act in that context, the greater the peace, the joy, the love that this life holds for us… and the greater our faith in the glory of the next.

Obviously, there are no little lessons in this gospel. It begins and ends on a grand scale with very specific instructions on exactly how our loving God wants us to live our lives. Jesus tells us: If you love me, you will keep my commandments. What a refreshing, endearing way for almighty God to instruct his creation. No pillars of fire. No stone tablets. No ringing “shalt” and “shalt not.” The syntax of this one sentence illustrates our new relationship… our New Covenant… with God. Jesus frames the thought in one conditional premise: If you love me. Then he pays it off with a concise statement of the inevitable results of that love: You will keep my commandments.
 
Jesus invites us. He does not order us. He gives no imperative that we must keep his commandments. He states an obvious cause and effect: Fill your heart with love and there will be no room for hate. Fill your day with love and there will be no time for mischief.

 In this gospel, form follows function. If your purpose and your practice are living the sublime beauty of Christ’s love, you will reject the ugliness of sin. If you are guided by the Spirit of Truth, you will not be false. Truth and beauty: these are legacy of the risen Christ. These are the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Cherish them. Rejoice in them. Share them today with someone you love.

Alleluia! He is risen.
 
God love you!



A Reflection for
Sixth Sunday of Easter
©The Reverend Canon David F. Sellery


 
Copyright © 2020 David Sellery, All rights reserved.


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