Vicar Mollie Hamre
The Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year A
Texts: Acts 17:22-31, Psalm 66:8-20, 1 Peter 3:13-22, John 14:15-21
Beloved in Christ, grace and peace to you in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Where do you think God is found?
When I was younger, I would think that God’s presence was found in my dog who would lick the tears off my face when I was crying. I would imagine God being the wind that would sweep through the trees and the breathtaking views at the top of a hike. Today, I see God in the people that surround me, encouraging me in my studies and reminding me that I am brave.
But notice that all of these ideas, all real ways to see God, were separated from one thing: myself.
What if I said that Jesus tells us that our Triune God is not something separate from us, but found within us? Jesus tells the disciples that even though he will not be physically present soon, that does not change Christ’s presence in the world, because you are here. You are in relationship, in connection–a vital part of our Triune God. This part of you is not something you need to be perfect to access or reach a certain level of faith to understand, but simply a part of you. A part that is alive. Right now.
The Gospel picks up from where we were last week with Jesus speaking to the disciples.
Where we heard our Triune God’s promise to the whole community. Bringing them together in Christ, healing them, telling them to not let their hearts be troubled because this whole community is being brought into the life of God. And no one is being left behind. We heard Jesus comfort his disciples for the days ahead and note what is to come, which then leaves them asking the question: what does it mean for Jesus to be present with us, when we do not see him physically? When the words of comfort are difficult to hear and life gets messy. When our hurt, competitive, and isolating world becomes too much? Where is Jesus then?
The answer that Jesus gives is that Christ is found within you.
Jesus promises that the Spirit of Truth is within us, within all of you. The spirit that is promised in our baptisms, even before our baptisms, proclaiming our relationship to our Triune God. The Spirit that promises we are the body of Christ, nurturing one another, trusting God, working towards peace and justice. This love is given freely for you. For all people. And the key in these words is the relationship part.
“If you love me,” Jesus says “you will keep my commandments.”
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.” This is not Jesus saying that you have to do something extraordinary or within criteria to receive the Spirit of Truth. Know, again, that you are already deeply loved and held–that has been taken care of. The “if” comes into play because we still have a choice in this.
This “if” is not conditional about your salvation or acceptance into God’s Reign. The “if” is about the relationship between our Triune God and God’s people. Our Triune God is in a relationship with us to lean in closer and to connect with us. Being within us, working through us, coming to be with us. That is the presence Jesus is talking about in the Gospel.
But how are we embodying the spirit of Christ in the world? What choices are we making to care for the neighbor? Are we working towards justice and peace? How is this congregation, as a community, called by the spirit?
Jesus is reminding us that “if” we are to live with our Triune God it is in relationship. We are participants with our Triune God, not bystanders. When Jesus, God with us, tells the disciples that the holy spirit abides in them forever–you are a part of this forever. But just as the disciples had to make choices about the ways they entered into their relationship with God, we have to too.
And we do that Together.
Just as we spoke last week about the word “you” being plural, it is this week too. And that is wonderful news. Because that means that when you are struggling, heartbroken, and weighed down, Christ comes to heal and abide with you through the community. And when that brokenness is found elsewhere, you are a part of that healing and abiding. It is what Christ did and calls us too. Which means that when we look out into our world, God is continuing to move throughout people and creation.
Do not let your hearts be troubled. In a little while the world will no longer see Christ, but you [all] will see Christ; [and] because Christ lives, you [all] will also live.” And on that day, you all will know that Christ is in [God,] and you [all] in Christ, and Christ in all of you. Our Triune God is here and present because of the love you show one another, the way you care for each other, the ways you all work for justice and peace.
That is where God is found.
In the name of the Father, and of the ☩ Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.