Being Love - Reflections - 6-5-19

Texts for Pentecost Sunday 
June 9, 2019

Genesis 11:1-11
Acts 2:1-21
Psalm 104:24-34
John 14:8-27

The story of Pentecost is given to us by Luke in his sequel to the Gospel of Luke titled Acts of the Apostles, known more simply as Acts. The yearly celebration of Pentecost marks the day that the Holy Spirit swooped down on Jesus’ believers (Jesus had recently left in the Ascension) with a rush of wind and flames of fire. This gift of the Holy Spirit empowered the apostles to share the good news of God’s love shown in Jesus with all nations. Whereas the Genesis text illustrates how diversity of language and nation can divide people, the Acts text shows God using diversity as a tool to get that good news out.

Read more about Pentecost via the BBC or via my reflection from last year.

The reading for this Sunday from John 14 picks up where I left off last week reflecting on John 17. John’s Gospel is like that. You can pick up a thought from later in John and add a thought from earlier in the book and it still connects together. This text is a little more straight forward about this connection between God, Jesus, and those who follow Jesus. Emphasize “a little”.

Jesus promises that God will “give you another Advocate, to be with you forever…. you will know the Advocate who abides with you and will be in you”. That word Advocate - which is sometimes just left in Greek Paraclete - gets translated as counselor or helper or comforter. Martin Luther described it as a defense lawyer who testifies on our behalf about Jesus’ ministry. There is also a sense of one who encourages, empowers, and facilitates. Bundle all those meanings together, along with symbols like dove, fire, wind, and breath. You get a glimpse of that the Holy Spirit is a bit more complicated than the cozy blanket that comforting and abiding might imply. The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. John 3:8
Make no mistake: The Advocate, God’s Spirit, is not tame.

Last week, where Jesus was praying fervently that his disciples would be made a part of the “community” or “oneness” of God, Jesus promises this Spirit “will be in you”. This week, we hear that the Spirit will not only be in us, but will be with us forever. In trying to take a linear route, rather than John’s circular route, let me say that the “indwelling of the Spirit/Advocate” means we are actually united somehow with God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 

We are invited into God and we are united there with all those others who are in God. The Pentecost story in Acts is clear that this Spirit creates a diverse community of people united in God’s love.

I find it interesting that Jesus used the words “another” advocate. Jesus seems to be passing the baton of his ministry to this promised advocate. 

Since the Advocate is within us and we are within God, that baton is passed on to us, us as a community. What’s the ministry? Being God’s love. In this unity, in this diverse community, we are God’s love. 

Any doing God’s love, or speaking God’s love, comes from being God’s love. 

A lot of final ideas about being vs doing/speaking came together from reading D. Mark Davis on his May 9, 2016 blog, Left Behind and Loving It. I need to credit him for a lot of this.

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Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245