Sunday, May 29, 2011

All that is seen and unseen

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
18”I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.
John 14:15-21
The text from John this week always reminds me of the lyrics to the Beatles song: 
“I am the Walrus.”

I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.

The rest of the lyrics of that song make almost no sense to me... it's word salad - at least forward... but at least I get this one little bit.  You see, this text is preparing us as we creep toward Pentecost when the Apostles were given their marching orders.  It says we are all one in Christ, all one in the manifestation of God on Earth. I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.

Every week, as part of the Nicene Creed, we say we believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of Heaven and Earth, of all that is seen and unseen.

This is the story of something unseen.

I have a friend who was deployed to Afghanistan in December and is back now, safe, though, injured, and sound.  I can’t tell you how grateful I am for his return.  His presence over there was like an itch in the small of my back.  It wasn’t enough to keep me from living my daily life… but it was worrying me.  I prayed for him, I prayed for his family, and occasionally, I closed my eyes and imagined I could see what his eyes were seeing. I reached out to him with my mind and my heart in an attempt to let him know that I was holding on to him from thousands of miles away.

I don’t know if this worked for him, if he was aware of someone praying for him.  But it worked for me. For a little while, I felt I could hold him up when he was too tired to stand, or watch over him while he slept. It was as if I could lend him some of my strength, some of my safety, just for a few moments.  It was as if, for a few moments, I was he and he was me and we were together. It’s a strange thing to say, I know, but I warned you, this was about Creation that is unseen.

This is Memorial Day Weekend and for some of us that means singing a nationalistic song in church, barbequing or marching in a parade. But what I think it ought to mean is not so much remembering as re-membering.
 
I wonder if we could think of the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf.  I wonder if we could imagine holding them in our care, as I did Mike.  Would we feel as if we were with them? Would we feel as if they were part of us? Could we, for a moment, displace their suffering? Could we offer them eternal presence in our minds and hearts?  Could we return them to membership in our communities, in our faith, of our church, by holding them in our hearts?
This is what I think Jesus was trying to tell us in this text.  We are all together, all part of a great whole, the whole of Creation.  We have, within us – if we are willing to be open to it – a little bit of God: The Holy Spirit. 

You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

And, having a little of the godhead within us, we are made a part, an active part of the Kingdom of Heaven as it is manifested on earth.

On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

So, if you accept that the Holy Spirit is in you, and that you are in Christ and Christ is in God and God is in you… what then?

If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

We are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves.  As. Ourselves.  Imagine Mike, then, and looking through his eyes at the battle field.  Imagine someone you know, reach out to them with your mind and your prayers. Love them as you love yourself.
I will not leave you orphaned;

He has not left us orphaned, he has left us with family.  He has left us with one another.  Even those who have gone on to be with God, he has left in our care, as part of our family. As part of Creation, of all that is seen and unseen. They are part of us, they live on with us… and we who knew them are a part of them.
 
There is a school of thought that the Kingdom of Heaven is to be achieved now, in an on-going process of reconciliation and unification.  The Church should be the vehicle, the critical mass through which the Kingdom is achieved.  But the Kingdom can have no end, there can be no death in the Kingdom, no being alone, no being orphaned.

So we have in us the Holy Spirit, and through the Holy Spirit as an Advocate, we have God.  And we are charged with loving one another as ourselves.  And with contributing to the rising tide of healing across the globe.  We do this not just now but always, with those who have come before, those we know now and those who will follow and remember us.  And we do this together:

I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

So, today, let us take a moment to remember those people who are not with us – those on active duty and those who have laid down their lives for the greater good – let us hold ourselves out to them, become part of them and let them become part of us. 
I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.

Let us form a Church universal, a vehicle for change, a critical mass. Let us pray that we can become the Kingdom of Heaven, and look for God to be revealed in one another and in the world around us. Let us pray that we can come together and bring about Kingdom of Heaven, and close the gap between all that is seen and all that is unseen.

They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you once again my dear friend. the Vicar

Life in the Garden said...

I read this yesterday morning with my coffee. At dinner time, Craig and I sat in the sunroom looking out at the hummingbirds in the clematis, and I told him about your piece. We had a long, quiet conversation about how his mother, gone for 6 years now, is still with us, with him, almost every second of the day in some way, that she is present, that his brother will be with us forever too. As a non-religious person myself, this was the most comforting idea of heaven, of life after death, that I think I've ever experienced. You are wonderful.