We were given the Spirit of Truth to guide us, to ground us in God’s Wisdom, and to help us find our way as we become the embodiment of God’s love as we live out the vision of God’s Beloved Community coming to fruition here on Earth.
May 14, 2023
Spirit of Truth
Rev. Dr. Heather W. McColl
“If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!
“I will not leave you orphaned. I’m coming back. In just a little while the world will no longer see me, but you’re going to see me because I am alive and you’re about to come alive. At that moment you will know absolutely that I’m in my Father, and you’re in me, and I’m in you. “The person who knows my commandments and keeps them, that’s who loves me. And the person who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and make myself plain to him.”
Spirit of Truth John 14:15-21
We continue this week with Jesus’ Farewell Discourse to his disciples, expanding on the conversation of how we are called to be his disciples. In essence what Jesus is asking, calling, challenging his disciples back then and now to become the Word Made Flesh. Not necessarily to put ourselves in the place of Jesus (We all know how that turns out. Just look at the many religious organizations who say they speak for God as they continue to separate, divide and exclude.) Rather, this Word Made Flesh is us as Jesus’ disciples embodying the love of God for all. It is us choosing to live out, to share the narrative that there is new life possible, that love and light will always have the last word, that we choose to live out the story of a present, grace-filled, living God, bringing healing and wholeness to all of God’s children as the one Body of Christ here on Earth.
Or let me say it this way…an article came out this week which probably no one else but us preacher types actually read. It was about church trends in this post pandemic time. This article stated that for some people, they are not coming back to church, not because they are mad or someone did something to offend them. They simply are not coming back to church. The article explored what this means for the wider church now and for its future. This article ended by stating that for many of our churches, our closing would send ripple effects throughout our community and for other churches, many would never notice the closing of their doors.
As I read that last line of the article, I started thinking of the conversations that the leadership has been having over the last few weeks. I thought about conversations I have had with many of you about Midway Christian Church and yes, the struggle to come up with answers about any of it. As I read that last line of the article, I wondered if some people in our very own community knew this community of faith even existed before we began streaming our services. My guess is probably not. For most people, Midway Christian Church is just a place they stumbled upon in the vast world of social media. That realization alone gave me a moment of pause. It hit me that if Midway Christian Church ceased to exist, some people in our very own community would probably not even notice.
Okay, let me stop right there. I’m not trying to depress everyone. But hear me out. As I always say, “There is hope to be found, especially when God’s Spirit moves in and among us.”
Now, back to my story…. As I thought about the people in our community who somehow stumbled upon Midway Christian, as I thought about the people in our community who still might not know we exist, the Spirit of Truth started to move. It made me take my own advice, my advice of choosing to live out a narrative that new life is possible. The Spirit of Truth challenged me to think beyond the four walls of our building and actually see the presence of God at work in our midst. I started to think not about me or us as a church but rather I thought about God’s people, people within our community, people within our nation and our world. I wondered about their lives. I wondered how many of them were connected to any community of faith. I wondered about what hardships they may be facing in their lives. I began to wonder now that the school year is drawing to a close, about how difficult the next few months may be for some families, for some children. I wondered about the ones who rely on free and reduced lunches so they won’t go hungry, the ones who rely on Backpack Food programs so that their families can make ends meet month after month.
I also began to wonder about the people in our own community… children who are at home all day because their moms and dads have to work with no one around to check in on them, to make sure that they are okay. I wondered about the ones who are older in our community, the ones whose families live miles away, the ones who may not have someone to check in on them each day. I wondered about the ones in our community who desperately need someone in their lives to let them know how loved they truly are. Who is that someone for these people? Could it be someone from our church?
This week, through the stirrings of the Spirit of Truth, I began to imagine real life people in our community, people who now can be brought together by the vision and mission of Midway Christian Church. A connection of community shared because the people of this church take Jesus’ mandate seriously, that mandate being… If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you.
You see, as a community of faith, we tell ourselves the story of God’s love and grace each week because the more our world is ruled by power and might, the more we know we are called to tell a different story, a story which reminds us, all of us, who we are, a story which reminds us whose we are. Each and every week, we gather to tell a story of what is possible as ones who continue to strive to bring God’s Kingdom into reality for this world. Each and every week, we hear about God’s grace. We hear about God’s love because the Spirit of Truth is reminding us our work as Jesus’ disciples is not finished yet.
This is our starting point for the journey ahead. Looking back at the empty tomb, looking back at the Garden of Gethsemane, looking back at the cross, Jesus wants us to embrace a life changing love as we strive to live out our calling, not keeping it for ourselves, but now empowered to ask the very difficult and uncomfortable questions for the journey ahead, questions such as are we ready to be open to the challenge of sharing God’s love and grace with a world that is hurting and broken? Are we ready to embrace a world that would rather ignore the promise of comfort and hope than believe that God could actually care? As one who are now empowered by the Spirit of Truth to work for God’s justice here on earth, are we ready to make the welcome wide for all of God’s people?
I will tell you, that even as I ask these questions, I don’t have all the answers. However what I do know is this… I have seen transformation happen because someone from this church offered a kind word, shared a bit of hope with others who were hurting and lost. What I do know is this… as the community of faith of Midway Christian Church, our work is not finished yet. We are still called to think beyond our walls, called to care for those in our community. We are still called to work together to bring about God’s Kingdom here on earth for all of God’s people.
So I guess the real question is how do we continue building upon this mission of Welcome so that this community, so that this nation, so that this world will know about God’s abundant grace and love? I don’t know about you, but I am excited to see where the journey will lead. May it be so.
See also: Theology Tuesday for Sunday, May 14, 2023 – Spirit of Truth John 14:15-21.