Together - Reflections 5-14-20

Texts for Sunday May 17, 2020
6th Sunday of Easter

Acts 17:22-31
Psalm 66:8-20
1 Peter 3:13-22
John 14:15-21

In this together.

You see that phrase a whole lot these days.  On lawn signs, in windows, and on social media. As we are physically separated from each other during the pandemic, this phrase serves as a reminder that we are still connected. 

In this together. 
Online it looks more like #InThisTogether

Jesus didn’t actually use those words (or a hashtag), but throughout John chapters 14-17 that is what Jesus, in his own way, is saying. Those chapters are called the “Farewell Discourse”. Jesus says farewell to his followers as he prepares to die. 

It is helpful to know what comes right before this extended good bye. Chapter 13 describes the Last Supper as told by John. In John, Jesus washes their feet and tells them to practice that humility and to put others before themselves: “As I have loved you, so you should love one another”. Jesus breaks it to the disciples that he is leaving, and by leaving, he means really leaving. Worse yet, one of them will betray him and one will deny him – Peter, we’re looking at you. Peter denies that he will deny but Jesus says “before the cock crows, you will have denied me 3 times”.

That’s the conversation that keeps going as we move into Chapter 14. “Do not let your hearts be troubled” Jesus says. I suspect that after all the troubling news in Chapter 13, their hearts are in fact troubled. Last week’s Gospel reading was 14: 1-14. This week’s Gospel starts at verse 15. 

In a lot of ways, I think we see that Jesus’ heart is troubled by the upcoming parting of ways; a farewell goes both ways. These verses are where Jesus begins to lay out the hashtag in this together. I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you; we are in this together. And to top it off, we’ll send the Advocate who will abide with you AND in you. Father, Jesus, Advocate, you - in this together.

That vision didn’t really pick up steam until after the resurrection. The group mostly disappeared and were not committing to “togetherness” at the trial or crucifixion. But in the evening of the resurrection, Jesus appeared to the group and through his breath made good on his promise of the Advocate.

The church began to grow as the disciples shared the good news, accompanied always by the Advocate/Spirit. This promise of connection was not only created for those 11 disciples, but extended to each person who was baptized and became a part of the faith community. And extended to those outside the Jewish faith. 

In today’s first reading, Paul is preaching in Athens. He assures them that God is not far from each one for in him we live and move and have our being. 

That promise continues today. Even in this new and slightly scary new reality of COVID19, we can say that we live and move and have our being in God.  

That has been and still is an eternal promise to God’s beloved ones. 

We are in this together.

How to Find Us

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245