Note: We will return to our look at the Gospel of Mark, but today’s letter is a different version of the sermon I preached this morning at out drive-in-worship.
The Holy Scripture: John 14:15-21 (Good News)
“If you love me, you will obey my commandments. I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, who will stay with you forever. He is the Spirit, who reveals the truth about God. The world cannot receive him, because it cannot see him or know him. But you know him, because he remains with you and is in you.
“When I go, you will not be left all alone; I will come back to you. In a little while the world will see me no more, but you will see me; and because I live, you also will live. When that day comes, you will know that I am in my Father and that you are in me, just as I am in you.
“Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. My Father will love those who love me; I too will love them and reveal myself to them.”
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
When I was about fifteen, I went with my mother to visit a shopping mall that had opened up about a half hour from our house. It wasn’t very big by today’s standards, but it was pretty fancy for the time. It included an elevator with three glass walls. My main goal for that day was to ride that elevator at least once, so Mom and I managed to get in without having to share it with anybody.
Mom was nervous of the whole idea of a glass elevator, but it only gave you a choice of two floors. And it seemed safe enough because from the outside you could see that it was lifted up on a big metal hydraulic support like the ones you see to lift up cars in car service and repair garages.
It was a busy weekend afternoon, and we could see all sorts of people through the windows.
We started at the first floor and rode up to the second floor… only, we didn’t. The elevator went up about halfway and stopped.
Mom was not happy. We waited a few moments and pressed the button again. Nothing happened. After waiting a bit longer, we noticed that the elevator didn’t have a button to call for help or one of those useful little doors that hide a telephone to the maintenance people.
We were a few decades too early to have cell phones, so we felt really isolated while being in the equivalent of a large fish tank on a stick.
After a few minutes, we waved to people through the windows, to get someone’s attention. That didn’t work at first, and we both got nervous about how long we might get stuck.
Then people noticed us and they stopped and looked at us. We waved to them and they blinked at us as if they were not sure what they were seeing. I was yelling something like “please find someone who could help,” but the soundproofing must have been pretty good or the mall music must have been playing pretty loudly.
After what seemed like a very long few minutes, we faintly heard somebody yelling from above us. “Help is on its way. Just take it easy.”
In ten minutes or less, a maintenance man showed up and was able to lower the elevator back to the first floor. He did not say what went wrong, but he was apologetic.
The funny thing was that my sense of relief did not come when I stepped out of that elevator to a very small round of applause, but when I heard that voice saying , “help is on its way.”
I remember an old movie called “Lifeboat” where the survivors of a sunken ship celebrate when they are sure that an approaching ship is coming to rescue them. You can stand all sorts of uncomfortable things if you know that everything is going to be better.
Right now, the world is in an awful mess. It can feel a little bit like being stuck in an elevator or being lost at sea. There are all kinds of threats to body, mind, and spirit.
After his resurrection, Jesus ascended to the Father. He is no longer walking the earth at a particular place and time. You can’t find Jesus walking along in Galilee or on the roads outside of Jerusalem. He is with the Father in heaven, and that seems far away.
But Jesus does not leave us helpless. We understand that there is an unseen aspect of God, we call the Holy Spirit. In today’s lesson, Jesus calls it the helper.
“I will ask the Father, and he will give you a Helper, who will stay with you forever. He is the Spirit, who reveals the truth about God. The world cannot receive him, because it cannot see him or know him. But you know him, because he remains with you and is in you.
“When I go, you will not be left all alone; I will come back to you. In a little while the world will see me no more, but you will see me; and because I live, you also will live. When that day comes, you will know that I am in my Father and that you are in me, just as I am in you.”
In the Bible, the words for spirit, wind, and breath are all related. The spirit is like the invisible wind that shakes trees and stirs up the surface of lakes and oceans. The invisible spirit is like the wind that drives sailing ships across the sea. Like the breath of God, it can breathe new life into us. Like the invisible quality of wisdom and common sense it can guide our actions.
So we are not alone, even though we don’t see Jesus today, we are moved by the helper, the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit also inspires us. Originally inspire just mean to “breathe in,” but God inspires love and good works every day.
So even though, we are living through hard times, take comfort and relax. You are not lost and forgotten. You are found and remembered.
Take a deep breath and let it out. You can relax, because help is on its way. Your rescue is getting closer and closer. The moment of our rescue is not here, but it’s getting closer and closer. Help is on its way.