Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Fr Robert Warren                                                                                        
John 14:15-21

With reference to the wind, the poet Christina Rossetti wrote:

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I.
But when the trees bow down their heads
The wind is passing by.

The invisibility of wind - the ordinary insubstantiality of air - is contrasted to its ability to affect and change the environment.  It bends trees, shapes landscape and casts the water up into waves.  Jesus used the image once to good effect with Nicodemus.  The wind has its own origins.   It rises unbidden.   It changes direction.  It blows where it will.  The frustration of Nicodemus is palpable in the face of this metaphor.  He might well have preferred to be told who God is rather than what he is like.  Nothing is given to him which he can control and file away in the way he wants to.

In this week's Gospel reading, Jesus says to his disciples that he

"...will ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever."

He ushers in yet another metaphor - that of the Advocate.  Here again, we are promised something yet still effectively denied the ability to define things with enough precision to control what will happen.  On this Sunday, when we gather as adults and young people at Christ Church to hear the promises of Christ to his people, we might well seek out a word which is clear about what the future will look like for us and for the ones we love best.  What are we getting into?  What will become of us?  What will become of our young people?  What Jesus tells us, instead, is that his people will not be alone.  God will be present to them in his Spirit.  He will intervene for them.  He will give them the words to speak when they need them.  He will stand between them and the consequence of human sin.  He is on their side.

Like the disciples gathered with Jesus at this point, God's people stand together at the beginning of a life of faith.  You are embarking on an adventure. 

The years lay before you and the doors are all open. 

Nobody knows the heights and depths you will encounter or the joys and griefs which will be a part of your lives.  Even with this lack of control, however, there is something which will not be taken from you.  The presence of God and his voice within us is the ordinary inheritance of the believer.  It can be trusted.  It can be sought out in prayer and reflection.  We can learn to listen to it with greater care.  We can school ourselves to follow it. 

The best things in life are all invisible.