What leaving gift would you give to your friends and family? For many people they would leave something physical, some item of memorabilia. For others they would leave them with amusing or poignant stories and happy memories of times spent together. The Gospel story for this week is an account of what Jesus left for his followers. No doubt Peter, James, John and all the disciples would have had many treasured memories of Jesus, but Jesus left them so much more. The amazing truth is that this is also true for us, his latter-day disciples. Yes, we have great stories of Jesus to read. We have all the Scriptures to read. We have the traditions of the church as well as faith and reason to draw us closer to Jesus, but we have much much more besides. Jesus left us Himself, through the Holy Spirit, the Counselor. Jesus says, “the Father will give you another Counselor, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit….He lives with you now and later will be in you.” To understand this complex teaching, we must look at what came before and what came after.
In the Old Testament, there was an unshakable belief that God was with his people corporately and individually. The psalmist writes, “GOD DID NOT WITHDRAW HIS UNFAILING LOVE FROM ME.” As we journey into the book of Acts, the Apostle Paul begins to unpick what Jesus meant: “All nations should seek God and feel their way toward him….For IN HIM WE LIVE AND MOVE AND EXIST.” In the Epistle reading for this week this is further emphasized. Peter writes, “If people speak evil against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live BECAUSE YOU BELONG TO CHRIST. The message of Scripture is that God is with us. He lives in us by the power of His Spirit who constantly reveals Jesus to us. Wow! I am reminded of that great prayer from St Patrick’s breastplate. Because of the gift of the Holy Spirit we can declare: Christ be with me, Christ within me; Christ behind me, Christ before me; Christ beside me, Christ to win me; Christ to comfort and restore me; Christ beneath me, Christ above me; Christ in quiet, Christ in danger; Christ in hearts of all that love me; Christ in mouth of friend and stranger. AMEN.
New Testament reading for this week: Acts 17:22-31
Gospel reading for this week: John 14:15-21
Epistle reading for this week: 1 Peter 3:13-22
Psalm for this week: 66:8-20