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“It is to your advantage that I leave you.”
I have often wondered how the disciples reacted when they heard Jesus say that. I don’t for a second think they believed him. After all, they had all left home, homeland, family, jobs, income – everything to follow him. All with the hope that he may be the one -the Messiah.
They felt something deep and real and utterly intuitive. He said “Follow me,” and they did.
Much of what they saw along the way with him confirmed their expectations. They witnessed him perform miracles. They heard him preach sermons the likes of which they had never heard before. They saw him change lives and minds. They saw him confront and embarrass the religious and political elite of their time. They loved it all, and they knew that he was worth making every sacrifice they had made just to be around him.
And then came that moment when things shifted a bit – that moment on the journey when, as Luke writes, Jesus set his face towards Jerusalem. Mark describes how ‘on the way’ Jesus began talking about being handed over and put on trial and tortured and eventually crucified. This was not exactly what the disciples had bargained for when they left everything behind to follow him. They were much more interested in Jesus using the power of his to defeat their enemies, not submit to them.
And so, having set his face towards Jerusalem and having presaged his death – he gathers with them for a last meal. This all had to have happened very quickly for the disciples. He entered the city a hero one week, and a few day later they are sharing a last meal on a night when he would be handed over to Pilate, betrayed both by a turncoat and a coward, all within hours of his actual crucifixion and death.
It was on that night, during that meal, in the midst of their confusion about all of this – he would say: “It is to your advantage that I leave you.” And no – not a single one of them would, could believe those words.
How can that be to our advantage, I can hear them asking. Ridiculous. We are nothing without you!
And then he added – “for if I do not leave, the Advocate cannot come.”
They did not yet realize, but would come to know, that the birth of the movement that would create the Church needed more than Jesus – it needed a Pentecost! It needed the breath of his Holy Spirit. They did not know that. But Jesus did – and they would learn it when, hidden away in the upper room even after Christ’s death AND resurrection, even after his apprearances to them – She showed up like the rush of a mighty wind!
Yeah – THAT’S what the Church wanted and needed and got: a Holy Spirit!
It is to your advantage that I leave you – for if I do not go She cannot come.
Come, Holy Spirit, Come.
It is Pentecost, and we remind ourselves that we are alive through the power and movement of the Holy Spirit of the living God and the risen Christ.
It is Pentecost, and we remind ourselves that no decline in membership rolls, no global pandemic, no shuttering of church doors will result in the abandonment of the church and her mission by the Holy Spirit.
She has been with us throughout, and she envisions a future in which we matter.
So, let her continue to breath and brood, move and mix, inspire and enthuse for there is much work to be done on this, our journey Into the Mystic.