Between Sundays for Week of May 15, 2023
For the last few weeks, the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has been present on news media sharing the news of a loneliness epidemic that we are living through in the US. Loneliness impacts our overall health as much as our general well being. As researchers continue to study loneliness we are learning, as the Surgeon General has stated: “Our need for human connection is like our need for food and water: essential for our survival.”
Jesus’ anticipates the loneliness that his disciples will face following his death and resurrection and so in his final address to his disciples, Jesus promises them, “I will not leave you orphaned.” It’s striking how in these final words to disciples, before they face the upheaval that will be brought on by his death and resurrection, before they come face to face with the loneliness that can accompany grief Jesus promises them house and home.
Jesus is drawing on both familiar and familial language of parents and children in the gospels from last week and today to assure his followers that although his end is near, he will not leave them alone and orphaned. (You can hear Pastor Hoffman’s message from last week by listening to The Word – Episode 82: Preparing a Place.) He will not leave them lonely. Jesus will send another – an Advocate – who like Jesus himself, will be a helper and friend to accompany them (and us) through all that is to come.
If our house is the place we live, then home is the place where we are known and loved and cared for. Our home is not always our house and our home does not always reside with the family into which we were born. But in the community of those who hear Jesus’ words and live out his command to love as he loves, Jesus promises to provide his followers with both – a house and a home – in eternity and today.
P.S. As always, if you missed worship at Bethlehem on Sunday, you can listen view it through YouTube, Facebook, or Bethlehem’s website, or listen to the gospel reading and message each Monday on The Word podcast (linked below).
Jesus anticipates the loneliness his disciples would face upon his death, resurrection and ascension. In his final words to his disciples before his death, he promises them, “I will not leave you orphaned” and to send another – an Advocate – who like Jesus himself, will be a helper and friend to accompany them through all that is to come.
Retired UMC Pastor, Steve Garnass, posts prayers, poems and reflections on Biblical texts on his website – unfoldinglight.net. Last week he shared his reflections on Jesus’ words in John 14:18, “I will not leave you orphaned.”
“What an evocative image, not only for the disciples who probably did feel orphaned after Jesus’ death, but also for us who often feel distant from God, or out of touch with Jesus. Jesus expressed parental love for us knowing how alone we may sometimes feel. The Spirit is subtle, and invisible to much of the world – but not far off or hard to “search and grope for.” Because the Spirit is Love. And Love is God. . . . [And] whenever you love . . . that is God, right here.”