Jesus still has much to say in this last conversation before his arrest and execution, but the disciples cannot bear what he needs to tell them. The rest will have to come later. Why? Probable reasons range from their preoccupation with grief over the prospect of losing Jesus, to spiritual inexperience, to spiritual immaturity. Perhaps the weight of the happenings of that Thursday evening keeps them from hearing the rest of the conversation. It may be more likely that they are unprepared for the conversation because they cannot imagine the coming days.
Some days I wonder how my departed grandparents would have coped with the present digital era. As a child, I watched them move from wash pot to wringer washer to electric washer and dryer! I cannot imagine how I would have advised them about computers or smartphones.
Thirty years ago, we could not conceptualize the global terrorism we face today or a Christian response to the resulting mass displacement of peoples. One hundred years ago, who could have imagined the collateral damage of twenty-first-century warfare and the moral issues it has raised? Or the surprising impact of Christianity’s global expansion upon Western Christianity? Like the disciples, we also need God’s continued guidance.
Jesus understood that the disciples would face new challenges—just as we do. Thank God that we have received the Spirit of truth to guide us through “the things that are to come.” The Spirit of truth, the Advocate, reminds us of Jesus’ message and the spirit of his ministry. We are not alone. God is with us.
God, we give thanks for your Spirit, who will lead us through the living of these days and remind us of Jesus’ ways. Amen.
This week’s readings remind us of the powerful role of God’s Spirit. For many Christians, the Holy Spirit is the person of the Trinity we understand the least. In the book of Acts, the Spirit empowers the apostles on Pentecost to speak in other languages and, in so doing, initiates the establishment and missional reach of the church to the wider world. The psalmist uses a wordplay on ruach, the Hebrew word for breath or spirit, to teach us that God’s Spirit was present at Creation and is necessary for the ongoing survival of all life. Paul writes that God’s Spirit confirms that we are children of God and can approach God with confidence, not fear. Even the disciples feel uncertain about what will happen when Jesus leaves, so John provides Jesus’ assurance that God will remain with them and with us through the teaching of the Holy Spirit.
• Read Acts 2:1-21. How often do you take solace in praying in private without moving to take action in the public square? Which site is the more comfortable for you?
• Read Psalm 104:24-34, 35b. Where have you seen evidence of nature’s resources being spent? How can you help?
• Read Romans 8:22-27. How consequential is it to you to acknowledge that God prays for us and the world? Why?
• Read John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15. What instructions do you wish Jesus had left for you?
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