328: June 16, 2019
To some, Trinity is the lynchpin to all Christian theology. To others, it is the great thorn in the side of Christian theology. Both may be sitting in your pews.
For me (Robb) the idea of Trinity is based in the concept of Relationship. God is Relationship. God is Relationship. The only way that God exists is in Love. God is Love. And so we are created in the image of God we are created in Relationship. We are created in and to love.
“As I’ve said before, I don’t claim to understand the Trinity and don’t trust those that report they do. The Trinity is, at heart, our best if manifestly inadequate attempt to capture in words the mysterious nature of God.” (David Lose, In the Meantime)
Advocate or Companion?
NRSV = Advocate
Illuminates the trial metaphor, and seems to work better with testify language in the rest of the passage. The Advocate is the one who testifies on behalf of.
Later, it says that the Spirit will “prove”
Problematic if you see Holy Spirit as the Advocate standing before an Angry Judge (God).
Helpful if you see the advocate as the one who walks alongside someone who is going through a difficult time.
The HS Advocates in the midst of a hostile and foreign world.
The Advocate is the one who gives advice, expertise, comfort, and presence.
CEB = Companion
Illuminates the idea that the disciples will not be left alone. A companion is literally “one with whom to break bread.” com=with. pan=bread. This seems to fit more with the pastoral claim that the disciples (and thus the John community) will not be left alone despite their apparent ‘aloneness.’
Later, is says that the Spirit will “show”
The choice to focus on Advocate, one who testifies on behalf of someone in the time of trial; or Companion, the one who walks with you through all of life, could inform the rest of the sermon. Lifting up both of these aspects and revealing how neither explanation of the Spirit is complete, could be powerful too.
As always John is working on two levels. Jesus is speaking to:
A persecuted faith community
Deleted part of the passage refers to the struggle that is to come to the John community. All dichotomous language in John needs to be read through this lens, but the lectionary removes it.
What is the Spirit to do?
The Spirit of Truth
V. 13 Guide you in all truth
V. 13 Will say whatever is heard
V. 13 Proclaim to you what it to come
V. 14 Will glorify Jesus
V. 14 Will take what is Christ’s and proclaim it to you
Fill the void of the soon-to-be Jesus (or long absent Jesus when heard from the perspective of the John community - or us)
Testify to the truth of Jesus
Testify to the wrong-ness of the world about
Sin because they don’t believe in me.
Sin connected to belief. Belief in the right relationship between Jesus and God is a key component of belonging to the John community.
More than belief, but faith. Faith is a radical trust in the relationship between Jesus and the Father. Faith is an orientation of life, not just a casual nod to a set of facts.
Righteousness because I’m going to the Father and you won’t see me anymore.
Jesus ascent with the Father is further proof of his relationship.
Judgment because this world’s rulers stands condemned.
The world’s rulers have already proclaimed their misunderstanding of Jesus’ role in the world. Their judgment, or separation, has already been accomplished by their own actions.
Thoughts and Questions
The opposite of sin, as far as this passage is concerned, is not virtue. It is faith. Sin is missing the mark. It is be mis-aligned to God’s will. Faith however, reorients a life toward God. Faith in Jesus as The Way, the Truth, and the Life, gives the one with faith a new aim, a new orientation. Faith is what draws someone toward eternal life, which is more appropriately understood to be authentic life. Authentic life is the life which is lived for the sake of others. Authentic life is one lived in faith, and acted out in love.
The role of the Spirit is to testify not only to the Church, but to the world. The Spirit will continue to speak through the believers to a world which refuses to recognize the truth. It is the role of the Spirit to continue to work through the people. First, the words were for the disciples, as a warning and commissioning as they moved forward without Jesus. Then, it was a reminder to the John community that their work was right. It was a word of comfort and encouragement to a community under duress. Now, we may read it in the same way. The same Spirit that guided the disciples to step out of the Upper Room is the same Spirit that encouraged the John community in its trial. It is the same Spirit which walks alongside us today.
Check out the Pulpit Fiction Academy with Beverly Gaventa on Romans
At the very least read Romans 1-4
Paul has already laid out his argument for justification by faith (Romans 1-4)
All sin- all fall short of the glory of God
It is only through the gift of faith in God’s grace that we are redeemed
Chapter 5 begins with the fruits or results of being justified by faith:
Peace with God in the present
Hope for God in the future
Now but not yet eschatological dynamic to faith: peace in the present and hope for the future
Peace in the present
Faith in God through Jesus Christ justifies us with the assurance that we do not need to earn our way into the Kingdom
Don’t put your faith in riches, or self-image, or sex, or power, or religiosity - put your faith in God.
You can never earn your way into the Kingdom, only accept the grace of God as revealed in Jesus Christ
Hope for the future
The Kingdom of God is not a dream but a reality that we live into - when we are at peace with God (through faith) we can begin to live into the Kingdom (think Sermon the Mount).
Converse if we are not at peace - then living into the Kingdom is impossible - we cannot bless the poor if we feel we do not have enough, we cannot love our enemy if we are focused on how to dominate them, we cannot love our neighbor if we continue to judge them.
Peace in the present brings hope for the future. Afterall, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and evidence of things yet unseen” (Heb. 11:1)
Boasting in sufferings?
This is difficult - used to justify the suffering of others. Note Paul writes, “we boast” not you boast. Paul is also suffering, not trying to justify the sufferings of others.
Other side of 4:2 where boasting is negative (you cannot boast due to your lineage or religiosity- those mean nothing in the realm of God) If you are going to boast, boast of your suffering through faithfulness.
Boasting is only acceptable when it illuminated the love and grace of God (not how awesome you are, but how awesome God is)
Being at peace with God does not mean a life free from suffering - in fact there is great likelihood that faith will bring you into suffering, but faith gives us a different perspective on suffering (cf. Matthew 5:10-12)
Reminder that Christ (the best of us) also suffered and died for us (even though we suck)
We boast in suffering because we know suffering and death do not have the final word.
What does suffering look like for Western Christians
suffering means doing without so others can have
suffering means paying more for clothes so Bangladeshi workers can be safe
suffering means paying more for food is it is grown humanely and sustainably
suffering means using public transportation to relieve congestion and pollution
suffering means leaving apathy and ignorance behind
suffering is an awareness of the pain of our brothers and sisters and doing something about it
Thoughts and Questions
Good News! Get off the treadmill of what you should do, or need to do in order to earn God’s favor- God loves you and there is nothing you can do about it! But you can respond to it: with endurance, character, and hope.
In what ways are you enduring and helping others endure? In what ways are you building up character in yourself and others? In what ways are you being a beacon of hope?
The power of resilience
Grace - how often do we preach on exactly what is “Grace” and why is grace so important? Don’t assume people know.
Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com,@pomopsalmist). Thank you to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Miserlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Sunday Morning”,"Real Ride"and“Summertime”) and Bryan Odeen for our closing music.