Martin B. Copenhaver
"I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live." - John 14:15-21
According to John, after Jesus concludes his public ministry, he spends a considerable amount of time with his disciples preparing them for what lies ahead. As Jesus speaks of his death and resurrection, his disciples have a multitude of questions. They sound like the questions of children just before their parents go out the door: Where are you going? Do you have to go? Can't we go with you? When will you be back? Who will stay with us while you are away? They are plaintive questions, pressing and immediate.
Jesus responds that God "will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever . . . I will not leave you orphaned" (John 14:15, 18). He is promising them the presence of the Holy Spirit. The word translated "Advocate" (sometimes translated, "Counselor," or "Comforter") means, literally, "someone who is called to one's side." The Holy Spirit is the one who stands by the disciples even after Jesus departs. And the Spirit is a constant and comforting presence for all those who follow Jesus, an advocate in times of trial, a counselor in perplexity.
The presence of the Holy Spirit, so wonderfully manifest in Jesus, continues to stand by and work through those who continue to follow him after his death and resurrection. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit we have Jesus' continued presence at our side always.
Wonderful Counselor, beloved Comforter, I thank you that, even as I call you to my side today, you are already there, granting me the continued presence of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Martin B. Copenhaver, former pastor of the Village Church, Wellesley, Massachusetts, will be the president of Andover Newton Theological School, Newton, Massachusetts, beginning June 1. He is the author of Living Faith While Holding Doubts.