“The Holy Spirit is described as ‘wind’ and ‘fire’ in Acts. In John, Jesus uses the analogy of water. All three of these elements can be unpredictable, disruptive and hard to control. In some churches, there may be a tension between encouraging spontaneity and freedom (of the Spirit), while ensuring that there is still order and continuity in what takes place. How can we maintain a healthy balance in ways that enable God to work in the lives of all those in our church?
Those who experienced what was taking place in Jerusalem were taken aback, despite the prophet Joel and Jesus predicting the Holy Spirit’s arrival. Peter, who preached what was arguably the first sermon, used the Scriptures to explain what was taking place. How good is our knowledge of the Bible when it comes to speaking about our faith? And in terms of reading it, do we tend to ignore those portions that make uncomfortable reading, or are ‘difficult’ to understand? What prophecies might be fulfilled in our time?
Those who heard the believers speaking in ‘other languages’ were from every part of the known world of the time. It was a clear sign of the Holy Spirit’s unifying power – bringing together people from different backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities. Today we extol the merits of having diverse congregations in our churches, but in practice many local congregations struggle to make the ideal of unity (and equality) a reality. What is it that holds us back, and how might we overcome such barriers? How can we work to ensure our churches are as inclusive and unified as possible?”
Extracts have been taken from Roots with permission.
Come, Holy Spirit; fill us with your peace.
Come, Holy Spirit; unite us in our worship.
Come, Holy Spirit; raise us by your power.
Come, Holy Spirit; come now.
The main reading for today comes from Acts 2: 1-21
In these opening words, we ask that the Holy Spirit, fills us with peace, unity, power. I am including the last part of a Vinod Shemron’s words from Fresh from the Word (31stMay): “Every day we, too, create our own world based on the way we use our tongues. Do we use our tongues to make life better for us and the people around us, or are we just using the tongue just to make us feel comfortable? This is the question that this passage asks. Our answers live in our daily deeds.”
I am writing this Blog on Wednesday 20thMay, it is a normal day, well as normal as things can be at this time, let’s call it a new normal. It was interesting to listen to the interview with Captain Sir Tom Moore on the BBC this morning, when asked what simple thing we can do he replied, give a little smile & you may get a little smile back, kindness to others is what we all need to express at this time, in simple actions, how we use our tongues and the gifts we have been given is a simple message but a strong and uplifting one!
Acts 2: 1-21
“On the day of Pentecost Jesus’ disciple’s experience being filled dramatically with God’s Holy Spirit, the culmination of many centuries of waiting for the fulfilment of God’s promise, made known through Old Testament prophets.
While some believers understood what was being said (by the power of the Holy Spirit), others in the crowd could not comprehend what was happening, and argued that the only ‘spirit’ present was of an alcoholic nature.
Pentecost witnessed God moving in a new, dynamic way in the lives of those believers. When God chooses to do a similar thing in our church (perhaps in the way we conduct our worship, or engage with the community around us), are we as dismissive as those naysayers in Jerusalem? “
The above point is of interest to all of us at this time, the way we conduct our worship & how we engage with our local community, this has always been a core principal of our Church & for all Churches & places of worship across the country and in the wider world, numbers may be shrinking but the message still has to be expressed in whatever way we can, the current times have made us think about worship in a very different way & as times progress we may have to change the way we worship, as we continue to strive to spread the message.
Extracts have been taken from Roots with permission.
Notes from an address preached by the Rev. Ronald M. Ward, B.D. Originally published in the September 1950 issue of Progress, the monthly magazine for Romford Congregational Church.
“Shall not God avenge His elect, which cry to Him day and night …?“ (Luke 18:7)
“Vengence is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)
In the story which we read for our lesson (Luke 18:1-8), a widow, a helpless and insignificant person, receives her justice from the hands of a judge. But the judge satisfies her for quite base and trivial reasons. He is not interested in the rights and wrongs of her case. He has no fear of God, caring nothing for eternal laws. He has no respect for man, and is unconcerned with what we should call human rights. But he becomes thoroughly bored with the woman’s tedious request, and he does what she asks to save himself unnecessary trouble.
Jesus concludes His parable with the words, “Shall not God avenge His elect?, meaning that justice, which in this case is wrung from the reluctant hands of a sinful human being, is always backed by the determined will and infinite resources of God.
This story is a reminder of important facts.
Thus Communism is a great evil. Its leaders neither fear God nor respect man, and are guided by selfish and brutal impulses. But God is not defeated by Communists. It may even be that some of His purposes are being worked out in history through their activities. The present regime in China, for instance, is not totally evil in all its effects. It is reckoned to be far less corrupt than its predecessor, and we need not hesitate to admit that a certain measure of justice has been achieved by it.
This, of course, does not justify Communism, any more than our Lord’s parable justifies the employment of judges who despise the law. Neither does it mean that we are at liberty to sit back and let evil men govern the world, hoping that God will make the best of things for us. But it does mean that righteousness must ultimately prevail, if not in this world then in the next. And we shall be wrong if we look for the fulfilment of God’s laws only through specifically Christian or “good” media. “Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee” (Psalm 76:10).
But justice means more than the achievement of the good. It also means the punishment of the wicked. The unjust judge stands under the wrath of God, in spite of the service which he unconsciously renders to God’s purpose. The Communist system is most certainly doomed because it sets itself against Divine law, and must therefore be ultimately crushed by it. How God will do this we do not know. But He most certainly will do it. “Vengeance is mine, said the Lord.”
All this is very comforting. But danger is hidden in such thoughts. The word vengeance suggests an angry person getting his own back. And “getting one’s own back” is very far indeed from the vindication of Divine righteousness. Unfortunately, however, justice and revenge, two very different things, are so involved together in our minds that it is difficult to distinguish between them. This is particularly well illustrated in the Greek language, where the words for vengeance and justice have a common root. In an attempt to escape this unfortunate confusion, our text, translated in the Revised Version “Shall not God avenge His elect”, becomes in Moffat’s translation, “Will not God see justice done to His elect”. Ronald Knox translates it, “Will not God give redress to His elect”.
The difficulty, however, is more than linguistic. it is psychological as well. The most primitive notion of morality is identical with that of revenge. Injury must be paid for in blood, not only the blood of the person who inflicted the injury but perhaps that of his family and tribe as well.
These ideas become rationalised in the laws of a civilised State, but even there the same element persists. Capital punishment, for example, may become a sort of blood revenge. Criminals are sent to prison partly as a preventive measure, partly as a remedial measure and partly to uphold the law. But who can deny that people get a certain satisfaction out of the thought that a man who has been a nuisance and a source of fear now has to “pay” for his misdeeds. How easy it is to point a finger at the evil doer and say with immense satisfaction, “I told you so”, or “Serves you right”.
The same feeling has been projected into religion, and here it becomes most harmful of all. The belief that God will avenge His elect may become a source of satisfaction to those who have suffered at the hands of wickedness and are too weak to do anything about it. And in the moment when that happens the Christian spirit is banished from our hearts. We should rejoice that God’s righteousness can never be defeated. But we must never be glad in suffering which is the result of sin. In the Old Testament the idea that religious men may enjoy, in anticipation, the punishment of the wicked, is too clear to need illustration. “Just wait until God has finished with you” is the theme which persists through many a Psalm. But remember that the Psalmist lived before Christ, and we do not.
Confusion between vengeance and justice finds supreme expression in wrong ideas about hell. As soon as we begin to think about hell as a place where God “gets His own back” we are imagining something which does not exist. The thought that the blessed will enjoy the spectacle of the torments of the damned has actually been expressed by Christian writers in ancient times. No wonder Origen made his heretical protest that Christ remains on His cross so long as a single soul remains in hell. I do not believe this. But the spirit of the heresy is much more Christian than the spirit of orthodoxy has sometimes been. The text, “Vengeance is mine”, appears in the context of Paul’s pleading that we should do all in our power to do good to enemies; that is, to keep them out of hell, not to lock them in and put the key in our pocket with an expression of triumph!
Punishment and retribution are always in harmony with righteousness and love. It is impossible to understand this with the mind, but it must be so if God is God. Retribution is not the expression of something vindictive in God, it is the result of the perilous gift of freedom with which we are endowed. Hell is real, both in time and in eternity, but it is always something chosen. The pangs of hell are the result of evil choices, and thus vindicate the righteousness of a Holy God of Love. Hell is chosen isolation from God. Everyone has tasted it, if only in nightmare, when unredeemed depths of nature take control and thrust us out into irrational loneliness and despair.
We know that evil men who drag the world into misery to satisfy their own wretched ambitions must suffer unless the grace of God rescues them from themselves. But this should never cause rejoicing. This must never be an outlet for resentment. Still more must we apply the rule to personal relationships. Nothing is more unchristian than the notion that God will “take it out” of someone who has injured us. Satisfaction in the thought that God will cause the wicked to suffer is a ruse of the devil, the great unconscious blasphemy which endangers us all. Remember that the foundation of religions is this commandment: “Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God, the Lord is one: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength”. How often do we commit sin of worshipping not one God, but two? A God of love for ourselves. And a God of revenge for our enemies.
This is part three of Keith Finch's thoughts for Sunday 24th May 2020
Many churches say prayers for those who are leaving – perhaps they are moving away from the area, or going on a long journey overseas. But, most of the time, it is the person who is leaving that these prayers are about. But Jesus is the one going away, and he is the one who did the praying – for those who were staying! Jesus wanted them to know they were not being abandoned, and that he would always be with them – and he said this in his prayer. What do you think Jesus’ prayer for us might be?
In the current climate I think like all of us Jesus would be praying for understanding for hope for shared love & respect for others,
Roots refers to dance as a way of getting closer to God, sometimes this is referred to as “ praise dancing” this is something we definitely do not do at Nelmes, for myself I would find it so hard to let go, I know that at least two of my cousins have in the past worshiped in part in this way. As I say it is not for everyone, but I have noted among many other projects on our televisions during lockdown that “dancing” has been performed via ZOOM and other media outlets, along with sing-alongs, ballet, opera, pop music & keep-fit & sport at home, the purpose of all the before mentioned is to lift our spirits, just as we ask God though Jesus Christ to lift our spirits.
Below you will see a picture, what are the people doing in this picture, we may not dance in our Church but we do hopefully found other ways of glorifying God in our daily lives, and maybe even if were not brave enough to dance in Church we could dance at home in the spirit of the Lord.
A sending our Prayer
Christ the Giver
If Christ be in your heart
Glory fills your days
For he is the King of Glory
If Christ be in your mind
Peace is in all your ways
For he is the prince of peace.
If Christ be in your deeds
Joy your life will raise
For he is the giver of joy.
If Chris be in your will
Strength of purpose stays
For he is the sender of strength.
Taken from Tides & Seasons by David Adam
Other extracts have been taken from ROOTS with permission
This is part two of Keith Finch's thoughts for Sunday 24th May 2020
I wonder if that Glory shines in your life, I always attempt to reflect my Christian belief in my everyday actions, I imagine that we would all say the same, that is why we try our very best to behave in a way that we believe God though his son Jesus wants us to. We have over the last few weeks been asked to express our thanks to all those that are committed to helping us through this crisis, some of us do that with on-line messages, some of us clap for the NHS & all those people out there that are doing so much for us. But I would like to reflect on whether we think we have somehow done enough, just as I would say if spending time in worship on a Sunday is not IT, the action itself allows us to gather together so we can go out of those doors refreshed with Gods spirit to be active Christians in our community, in a way it is a catalyst that enables us to reach out with that strength of purpose that enables us!
Gods Glory is everywhere but not always visible, sometimes Glory is hard to recognise, as it did for the disciples on the mountain top. Sometimes Glory is hidden, as it was for the suffering Christians. But the Glory of God persists (this message is magnified in these times we are living in and through)
And as I mentioned at the start, do we attempt in some small way to reflect God though Jesus into our lives and the way we behave day to day?
In another of the lectionary readings for this Sunday: Acts 1: 6-14, here Jesus says goodbye to his disciples, reminding them that the next major thing to happen to them will be when they receive the Holy Spirit, not his next resurrection appearance , not the liberation of the nation. We have all said goodbye to someone in our lives in fact we are doing this all the time, on some occasions that “saying goodbye” stirs up deep emotions, a young person going off to University, going off on their Gap Year, the day your son or daughter gets married. How do we say goodbye, it depends on the circumstances. I remember the day my daughter got married I was a very proud father, but at the same time both my wife & I were well aware that in some ways we were saying goodbye. There are a thousand other examples we could use.
In this week’s reading from Acts, Jesus is about to go away. How do you think the disciples and their friends were feeling? In fact, the words we heard today were part of Jesus’ prayer for the disciples before going away. Can you recall any of the things he prayed for?
This is part one of Keith Finch's thoughts for Sunday 24th May 2020
Mighty God, we gather in humility to worship you.
Caring God, we bring to you our concerns.
Glorious God, we exalt your holy name.
Unite us – make us one in you,
that your love may strengthen and empower us.
Don’t they look alike!
Have you ever been to visit a new baby? Have you heard people say that the baby looks just like its mum (or dad, or brother, or sister)’? As we grow up, do people still identify characteristics of our family in us? Have you ever told someone they have similar characteristics to a member of their family? I wonder how people feel when they are told they look ‘just like their mum’, or that they have a similar mannerism to their dad, or that they sound just like someone else in their family. Has it happened to you – how did you feel? I wonder if, in a way, we are sometimes quietly happy that a son or daughter is seen to be a little bit like us, especially if the characteristic is a good one. And, even when we are not related, I wonder if we like to find similarities with people we admire, or love, or care about. Maybe this will come into today’s worship.
Gospel: John 17.1-11
“John’s Gospel does have a prayer offered by Jesus that resembles the anguish of the prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane in the Synoptics, but it is back in chapter 12 (12.27-36). This prayer has a quite different quality. Jesus looks up to heaven and says, ‘Glorify your Son.’ We often think of glory as dazzling light, the spiritual equivalent of some heavenly bling, but when the term is used in this passage several other meanings emerge. The crucifixion, for all its horror and darkness, will be the hour in which Jesus is glorified (v.1). Jesus has also glorified his Father by finishing the work he was sent to do (v.4). Jesus even says that he has been glorified in his disciples (v.10). Glory, like knowledge, is deeply relational and mutual: Jesus requests that the Father glorify the Son, so that the Son may glorify the Father. Glory is something to bestow on another, and knowledge is about knowing someone, not knowing something (vv.3, 6). The spirals of meaning in John’s Gospel take on their widest curve yet: right back to the prologue of the Gospel (John 1.1-3), and so back to before the time that the world itself existed. Jesus is not asking here for a return to a heavenly status quo where he can forget that the experiment of the incarnation ever happened; he is praying for a new situation of increased knowledge and glory, where his disciples are included in the relationship between Father and Son, caught up in this mutual giving of glory, like so many mirrors reflecting the eternal light.”
Notes from an address preached by the Rev. Ronald M. Ward, B.D. Originally published in the August 1950 issue of Progress, the monthly magazine for Romford Congregational Church.
"The Son of Man ... a friend of publicans and sinners." (Matthew 11:19)
Getting on with other people is one of life's biggest problems. It is a problem with two sides to it. For on the one hand we may find it hard to like our fellow human beings. Or on the other hand we may find it hard to get them to like us!
Some people are easy to love, and occasionally we fall into a friendship which has real creative power. Now and again we find a friend who throws a new and delightful light across the world, and this is indeed a rewarding experience. But if some people throw a light over life, others throw a blanket over it. Very often we find it hard to like people not because they are wicked but because they are boring. Not because they do us harm but because they exasperate us.
In imagination we all think it a most excellent and beautiful thing to love one's neighbour as oneself. The very young often picture themselves leading lives of sacrificial love on the mission fields or in hospitals, and firmly believe themselves capable of fulfilling the law of Christ. Idealism is no bad thing, and it would be sad if we allowed it to become submerged in cynicism. But at the same time most of us discover that to imagine oneself living a life of love is very different from actually making the attempt. The real world of relationships is hard to live in, and it is dangerous to allow a fantasy about one's ideal self which does not as yet fully exist, to hide this fact.
Of course it is easy to be on good terms with folk we only meet occasionally. The real test is provided by the men and women we have to live and work with every day. Most of us will have to admit that we heartily dislike some of them. Right or wrong, we had better accept this. If we ask Him God will help us to find new ways of understanding and sympathising with the people we don't like. And at least we can exercise restraint and charity in our dealings with them. But it would be foolish to pretend to ourselves that we like them when we don't. Foolish and perhaps sinful too. In the long run insincerities are alway harmful, even, perhaps especially when they are dressed in Christian sentiment.
It is not usual, I believe, to admit these things, particularly in Church, where we too often feel committed to pretend a more Christ-like spirit than we actually possess. But it seems to me just as well to acknowledge that we often expect more of one another than at present we are able to give. To be at the same time closely linked with human lives and to love them as oneself is an enormously difficult thing to do. Years of self discipline may be required of us before we make any real progress in the matter.
But what of the other side of our problem? There are people who are hungry for fellowship and cannot find it. People who blame themselves for being shy, or stupid, or unattractive, and wistfully wonder if that is why they never manage to maintain a friendship with anybody for very long.
Of course it is nonsense to suppose that a shy person is necessarily friendless. Shyness has a sort of charm of its own, and we are far more likely to be lonely if we choose to be aggressive or self-assertive than is we happen to be different. (Self-assertive people frequently get themselves elected on committees. But nobody wants to live with them). And as for stupidity, it would be a great mistake to suppose that the happiest relationships are built on clever conversation. Most human talk is really very ordinary. The person matters more than his speech, and we do not foster human comradeship by marching into somebody's drawing room with a bright remark about the international situations. And alas for the poor soul who thinks that the key to happy friendship is held by those who are blessed with a Hollywood profile. If the delight one human being can find in another depended on good looks some of us would be very lonely indeed.
Now there is one person we too often neglect in our thoughts about the problem of "getting on with people." And this person may very well be the clue to the whole matter, because we have to spend all of time, and eternity too, in his company. It is as well to ask the question, "On what terms do you live with yourself?" Remember that the command of Christ has two edges to it. You are to love your neighbour as yourself. This means, perhaps, that if you happen to despise yourself you will tend to despise your neighbour too. And if you hate or fear or resent yourself all this will find expression in the way you deal with other people, and, consequently, in the way they deal with you.
It may come as rather a shock to learn that the Lord has told us we ought to love ourselves. And yet I think it is so. And in a moment I shall try to tell you why.
Self love which is nothing but self esteem, self righteousness, greed, or pride, is of course a sin. More than that it is the source of all sin. There can be no doubt at all about that. The Gospel condemns it out of hand because it shuts a man away from God. Love for God ought to be so much greater than anything else in us that it throws all our human loves into the shade. This, I suppose, is what our Lord meant when He made use of an extraordinary paradox and told us we ought to hate our nearest relations for His sake (Luke 14:26).
But the self love which the New Testament commands is very different from the self-centred life of sin. Self-centred behaviour, far from expressing love of the self, often conceals a positive dislike for it. Take as a simple example the pathetic little sin of snobbery. A man is a snob, not because he loves himself but because he despises himself in the knowledge that his father was a fishmonger or some other perfectly honourable and worthy thing. A good deal of unpleasant human behaviour takes place because we carry around with us a secret sense of shame, inferiority, and failure. And no one who his ashamed of himself or angry with himself can be said to love himself.
So perhaps we talk too glibly about the sin of self love, when we really mean the sin of being self absorbed. For at the centre of sin there is nothing so noble as love, but only hunger and fear and oppressive anxiety. Fear of being found out, exposed as a little fellow when one wants to be a big one. Anxiety lest one should be deprived of prestige or money or some other thing one desperately wants. Lust, whether of the spirit or body, insatiable appetite, the very opposite of the deep peace of love.
From all this Christ can set us free. In Him we are bidden to repent, to acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickednesses. We stand before Him as men in whom there is nothing worthy of love. But after that, if we trust Him, inner failure is forgiven. We are invited to enter the family of God. He who was the friend of publicans and sinners bids us welcome. This means, if anything at all, the possibility of being on good terms with God himself. And if He wishes to be on good terms with us, surely we can be on good terms with ourselves? If we are to find His image in every human life, we must find it, and respect it, in our own hearts too. Whenever Jesus Christ healed a man He bade Him stand upright. "Take up your bed and walk." It is a call to self reliance and self respect. "Lazarus, come forth." And forth he came, out of the humiliation and shame of human corruption.
I am sure it is a sin, a sign that we do not really believe in redemption or in love, if we despise ourselves. God bids us be humble, but He does not wish to humiliate us. He shows us our need, but then gathers us to Himself, to stand upright as sons and daughters in His house.
To love your neighbour, to be on good, free, happy terms with him, it is necessary to be on good terms with yourself. The Christian can dare to be this, because he knows what grace means. Without arrogance, indeed with awe and wonder, he may claim the power to enjoy and love his own life. And this is the key of friendship placed in his hands.
The need for me to love my seedlings in such a way that they mature and grow is surely a mirror for how we should love one another. During lockdown many of us will have experienced moments of loneliness, where doubts have crept in. When that unexpected call has come that lifts our spirit, the call you have made to an old friend, this time where we must care and help those that call out to us. When we come out of this pandemic, and we will come out the other side, maybe into a different world. Let us all remember that person who lifted our spirits, the love that was shared every Thursday when our neighbours ventured out to clap for carer’s. My hope is that this love that has been expressed so openly, all the fundraising, all the great ways of sharing will be carried forward. Don’t let us forget how kind people have been, not that they were not kind before, but maybe, just maybe we can continue to share love in this new found way.
One of the hymns we could have sung today is “Lord, the light of your love is shining” how appropriate, what follows is an extract from an Article by Michael Morpurgo: I hear already that some can’t wait for everything to go back to normal, no normal won’t do. Surely out of this must come a moment of hope for humanity, that we can gather ourselves to create a world community and learn how to live together more equitably, in peace, in harmony with one another and our planet”
So I close with an Image that says it all, I will continue to tend to my seeds, and I fervently pray that when we do come out at the other side, that we will continue to help one another to enable Gods love to be shared.
Is it OK to accept all our experiences of calm, comfort, beauty and feeling uplifted as intimations of Jesus’ continued presence with us? On the other hand, do some of us undervalue such experiences? Should we be more ready to acknowledge the ‘one beside us’ bringing comfort in need, and the ‘advocate’ stiffening us against threats? Or maybe that is self-indulgence too? So, how are we to understand the kinds of knowing and seeing that are promised, and are to be Jesus’ gift to his disciples?
Father, Son and Spirit in this passage demonstrate a complex and dynamic relationship with one another and with the disciples in the world, revealed and then hidden, intimate and simultaneously infinite. Does it help to remember that relationships are always organic, flexible? They grow, reform and transform, deepen and mature. Might this keep us from all-or-nothing positions where we think that believing and not believing, seeing and not seeing (and so on), are mutually exclusive opposites?
Adapted from Roots 17th May 2020
So coming back to my reference to whether my seeds will germinate, those of us lucky enough to be able to garden may want to reflect on the marvels of a seed, we all view Gods world every day but whether my seeds germinate or not will depend on many things, if seeds do germinate don’t prick them out too early (they may well wither and die) some wont germinate at all, some will be crowded out by their bully like brothers or sisters. So what is love in action, the commands that Jesus urges us to keep are practical, every day, ‘out there’ in nature. Looking for examples of love in action and of situations that need love to be expressed in a practical way.
As per last week, what follows is a compilation of extracts from Roots and some of my own thoughts, I have been attempting since 2009 to help by leading worship at Nelmes, at the start I used a library of events that had occurred on my travels, meeting with Christian folk, recounting situations that had impacted on me. At the beginning it was nerve racking it still is in 2020, both myself & Barry have over this time taken quite a few services, I think we would both say it doesn’t get any easier. So when I thought about creating Blogs during lockdown I probably didn’t think it through thoroughly, I have found writing sermons harder as the years have passed, gone are my work related stories, people at Nelmes will know that over the last couple of years I have used articles from newspapers to help to craft my message. So this Blog may not be as long as previous ones, but I hope the message is still there. - Keith Finch
THE SPIRIT BESIDE US:
The Father loves you,
The Son loves you,
The Spirit loves you.
Come and show your love.
Spirit of truth, come close to us.
Unite us in the body of Christ.
Enable us to worship God in Spirit and in truth.
Help us to support and encourage each other.
Help us to love as we are loved.
Sprit of truth, come and abide in us. Amen
I will be using the reading from John 14: 15-21 for today’s blog, the other lectionary readings for Sunday 17th include, Acts 17: 22-31, Psalm 66: 8-20, 1 Peter 3: 13-22.
I spoke last week about my Garden, how I was managing during the current problems, even if Garden centers do open I intend to cope without bedding plants, to attempt to adapt using what I have & hopefully what I have grown from seed!
Gospel: John 14.15-21
The theme in this speech by Jesus spirals back round to the centrality of love (see 13.34). Loving Jesus becomes evident when we obey his commandments, the central one of which is to love as he has loved us. To help us in this, Jesus will ask the Father to give us another ‘Advocate’ who will be with us for ever, who is also called the Spirit. The Greek word translated ‘advocate’ literally means the one ‘called to your side’ and could equally be translated ‘intercessor’, ‘counsellor’ or ‘intermediary’ – and probably by a number of other words too. It is the word used in the Greek version of the Old Testament for the comforters who came to Job, so one could add a positive version of ‘comforter’ to the list. When Jerome was translating the New Testament into Latin, he felt that the term was intentionally broad and inclusive, so instead of choosing just one word and therefore one meaning, he simply turned the sounds of the Greek word into Latin, giving the term ‘Paraclete’. The Paraclete is the one who guides, counsels and consoles us, and speaks up on our behalf. Crucially, the Paraclete will never desert us in our hour of need. This speech then flows on naturally from discussing our relationship with the Paraclete to discussing our relationship with Jesus and with the Father. The kind of mutual indwelling that Jesus describes (e.g. ‘he abides with you and he will be in you’, and ‘I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you’) makes it clear that our relationship with the Paraclete is not something distinct from our relationship with Jesus and the Father, but is all bound up in that oneness with God that ensures we are not left orphans.
Sources: Roots 17th May 2020