After much prayer, discernment, and hard work, St. Mark’s leadership decided we would return to a full in-person schedule beginning Sunday, September 19. Note that some gatherings will continue to be available online.
Jesus said, ”If you love me, 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 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. ”I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” John 14:15-21
My first date with my wife was the Malt Shop in Minneapolis. A burger and fries place, I mean it was the first date, you got to walk into this kind of thing with some caution. So a low-pressure place and the first date you talk about your self. You listen, and you try and see if there is common ground.
Never one to up the anti too quickly I was talking about household chores, (no I have no idea how we got there…and I have no idea if either of us thought this was romantic.) Anyway, my beloved said she did not love to cook, and I said I did, I said I did not care to do laundry, and she said she found it pretty soothing and liked it.
In a malt shop, I, not wanting to up the anti too soon, said, “Oh, we should get married.”
Jesus, this morning is still saying goodbye to his friends. He has died, and now is back and wanting them to know that the advocate is coming. Another aspect of God is on the way. They never need to feel that aloneness that they felt like his death again, because he is leaving and this advocate is coming to be with them.
Which is an amazing concept. We have been told to think about the world like that in our families, in school, in Sunday school, in church, in philosophy classes, in various seminars, when we are out doing direct service, and this is the first time in our history that we have done it on a worldwide basis.
It extends to when we are outdoors, A member of our community who lives on the hill, is immune-compromised and the lack of people wearing masks while running or riding bikes keeps them indoors. No walking or exercise because of other people’s choices.
That is a choice too, and wearing a mask feels uncomfortable. It feels like an obligation.
I would say not an Obligation instead an act of Love.
We accompany each other know and not knowing if we are trying to follow this way of life, to have a good orderly direction to be apart of this dance that Jesus is talking about. Of being with him, and the Father and knowing and being known.
We, as people of the way, know this. We have done this on a cellular level. By following the words of Christ, by being members of this community, no matter what you believe, we do this.
Karoline Lewis says this, “We have done this accompaniment, is not simply something that we do, but it embodies who Jesus was for his disciples and then who the Holy Spirit was, and is, for believers, both then and now. We embody accompaniment, commit to accompaniment, and do accompaniment because this was who Jesus was as a leader. Accompaniment is central to Jesus’s mission and vision, in part because accompaniment is born out of relationship and thus also maintains relationship. Beginning and encouraging relationship, therefore, appears to be a hallmark for how Jesus understood his ministry and himself as one who leads.”
That is why abiding is so crucial in this reading, and we hear the call that God abides with us and, by definition, abide is to tolerate it, withstand it, or await it or accept it. All of this abiding easily could tie into why we are staying home, why we are staying away, even from those we know and Love….yet, it is more profound than that we continue to stay home because we are so deeply connected that we are not trying to obey a tenant, withstand it, we are doing it not out of obligation but of Love.
If we abide in God, we are deeply connected to each other. I describe the word abide to children like this, watching trees grow, laying under the trees in my parent’s yard, going from sticks to fuzzy green sticks to leaves, to canopy. The trees leave mesh into one another an abide. For adults I talk about older women making lace, as they tat, they make a series of knots, we are tied together, and we have to see that is the call that in the godhead, there is a relationship and the creator, (God), the redeemer (Jesus) and the sanctifier (the holy spirit) are with one another, and we too are in a relationship, and we are together.
We do not do it perfectly, in that Malt shop 21 years ago, right after I said we should get married, I jumped up and ‘saw’ someone I knew and went and talked to them. We do relationships so imperfectly, we try, we fail, and we try some more. We are all in this together, not out of obligation but in Love. We will not do it perfectly. We keep trying.