Friday, May 27, 2016

Pentecost Sermon: John 14: 15-21 Who is the Holy Spirit?

Saying goodbye is never easy, and yet it comes all the time. Whether it's P7s preparing to change schools, saying goodbye to teachers and dinner ladies, or friends who are going to different schools; or if your best friend moves away to another country. It's not easy to say goodbye.

The Bible reading today is from the night before Jesus was crucified. He has told his disciples that he is going away - back to the Father, back to heaven - and he's not going to be on the earth with his disciples any more. The disciples are sad. They've had three years with Jesus, seeing the miracles he has done; hearing the teaching he has given; all those amazing things. But they've also just been with Jesus - eating, joking, spending time talking as they walk along.

All that was coming to an end. Saying goodbye. The disciples are sad. And we would be too - imagine if we got to be with Jesus here, in person, here and now, and then he says that he is leaving. We wouldn't like it either.

But Jesus gives them a promise: the disciples won't be on their own. Jesus says: 'I will ask the Father and he will give you...' the AA. Now, does anyone know what the AA is? Well, if you are out in the car, and it stops, it won't go any more, then you might need to ring the AA, the Automobile Association. They'll come and help. They'll come and do what they can. And Jesus promises the AA - but not the car breakdown service.

Jesus promises this AA: Another Advocate. Now what do those words mean?

Another - it's a second, just like the first. If you have one bike, and you get another bike, then you'll have two bikes. That's another.

Advocate - now imagine you're in court. You are facing the judge and the jury. But you don't stand alone. You have someone standing with you - your barrister / solicitor, who is beside you, speaking for you, arguing your case.

Another Advocate is someone who is just like Jesus - up to now, Jesus had been the Advocate of the disciples. He was with them, he was their helper, their advisor, their counsellor. But now another advocate is coming: the Spirit of truth, also known as the Holy Spirit.

So what does the Holy Spirit do? Jesus says 'he will be in you.' So here's a glove. A nice leather glove. I'll set it on the lectern. Now, can that glove do anything? Can it lift a glass of water? Can it wave? Can it open the door? No, no, no. The glove just sits there. No matter how much we ask it, or tell it, it can't do anything by itself. But with my hand in it, the glove can do lots of things. It can lift things, wave, open things. The Holy Spirit is like that - he comes into us to help us to live for Jesus, to do the things we can't do by ourselves. He is the Spirit of Jesus - Jesus living in us.

I've got a question for you. Who is the best footballer in the world? Messi? Now I'm not great at football. Anyone who plays on a Thursday evening will tell you that. Now imagine that Messi could control me. If he could control my legs to run to the right place each time, or my feet to kick the ball and score goals, or control my brain, my thinking. I'd be brilliant! I could play like him. Well, Jesus comes into our life by his Holy Spirit, not to make us better footballers, but to help us to live like him.

And a big part of living like Jesus is to love him and keep his commands, to do what he wants us to do. But it's not just demands and commands - Jesus gives us the help, power, and desire to do what he wants.

Saying goodbye isn't easy. Over in John 16, later on this same evening, Jesus says that it's better that he's going away. How could that be? Well, think how the disciples met with Jesus. He could only be in one place at a time. If Jesus was in Jerusalem, then you had to be in Jerusalem to be with Jesus. If you were anywhere else, you weren't with him. But now that Jesus has gone back to heaven, and has sent his Spirit to be with us and in us - now we can have Jesus with us where we are!

Whenever the car breaks down and won't go any further, then you call the AA. You only need them when something goes wrong. But every Christian always has their AA with them. Another Advocate, the one who is like Jesus, who stands with us, and is in us, to help us, and guide us. Let's pray.

This sermon was preached at the Family Service on Pentecost Sunday 15th May 2016 in Aghavea Parish Church.

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