Sermons 2003-2004

The Holy Spirit: Paraclete, Pneuma, Ruach, Easter 6C 2004
Home | Christmas Eve A, "Are we really ready?", Luke 2: 1-20, 24 December 2004 | "Finally! Well, almost...." Advent 4A , 19 December 2004, Matthew 1:18-25 | Faith and Doubts, Advent 3A, 12 December 2004, Matthew 11:2-11 | John the Baptist, Advent 2A, 5 December 2004, Matthew 3:1-12 | Left Behind? Advent 1A, 28 Nov 2004, Matthew 24:37-44 | Some King of kings! Proper 29C, 21 November 2004, Luke 23:35-43 | "Not one thrown down", Proper 28C, 14 November 2004, Luke 21:5-19 | All Saints and for all the saints, 2004C, 31 October 2004, Luke 6:20-36 | The Lambeth Commission Windsor Report, the Pharisee, and the tax collector, Proper 25C, 24 Oct 2004 | "Lord, teach us to pray." Proper 20C, 17 October 2004, Genesis 32:3-8, 22-30; Luke 18:1-8a | "It's all in the choosing", Proper 23C, 10 October 2004, Ruth 1:1-19a; Luke 17:11-19 | "Increase our faith", Proper 22C, Luke 17:5-10, 3 October 2004 | Proper 21C 2004, 26 September 2004, "R&R: Response and Relationships", Luke 16:19-31 | Proper 19C 2004, 12 September 2004, "Lost and Found", Luke 15:1-10 | Proper 18C 2004, 5 September 2004, "Preaching or Meddling", Luke 14:25-33 | Proper 16C 2004, 22 August 2004, "The Narrow Gate ", Luke 13:22-30 | Proper 15C, 15 August 2004 | Proper 14C, 8 August 2004 | Proper 13C, 1 August 2004 | Shrinemont: "Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses", Proper 15c, 15 August 2004 | "Lord, teach us how to pray," Proper 12C, 25 July 2004, Genesis 18:20-33; Luke 11:1-13 | The Summary of the Law and the Good Samaritan: "Go and do likewise" Luke 10:25-37, 11 July 2004 | Independence Day 2004. "The Creative Tension of the Church: Who is to be included?" | "Now! Now! Now!", Proper 8C, 27 June 2004, Luke 9:51-62 | "Star Throwers", Proper 7C, 20 June 2004, Galatians 3:23-29; Luke 9:18-24 | The more things change the more they remain the same, Pentecost 2C, 13 June 2004 | "O Holy Triune God, most Holy Trinity; here are we. Send us." Trinity C, 6 June 2004 | "Come, Holy Spirit", Pentecost C , 30 May 2004 | "That they all may be one", Easter 7C, 23 May 2004 | The Holy Spirit: Paraclete, Pneuma, Ruach, Easter 6C 2004 | Agapate Allelous: Love beyond each other, Easter 5C 2004, 9 May 2004 | The Good Shepherd and the five people you meet in heaven, Easter 4C 2004 | "The God of the Second Chance -- and of many chances", Easter 3C, 25 April 2004 | Baptizatus Sum: I am baptized, Easter 2C 2004 | It is NOT an Idle Tale: Easter Sunday, 18 April 2004 | Palm Sunday-Passion Sunday Roller Coaster: What We Want or What We Need? | Who are the Wicked Tenants, Lent 5C 2004 | The Prodigal Son -- and so much more | God, the Gardener, and the Fig Tree | "The Hen and the Fox", Lent 2C | The Comfortable Rut of Ordinary Temptation | "Getting from Uh-oh to Aha", Luke 9:28-36, Epiphany Last C, 22 February 2004 | Jesus, Jeremiah, and the Beatitudes: What to Make of it All | The Sword of the Lord and of Gideon: God working in the world | Jesus, the Archbishop, and Annual Council The Dark Abyss of Schism | The Nature of Revelation: Jesus' Sermon at Nazareth | The Miracle at the Wedding in Cana | The King of kings and the Lion King | "The Magnificat, Watching, and Waiting" | "Gaudete in Domino semper: Rejoice in the Lord always" | A Voice crying in the wilderness, "Prepare the way of the Lord." | "Standing in the Day of Battle: Isabel and the Gospel" | Dogma, Doctrine, and the Theological Enterprise | The Little Apocalypse | Jesus and theWidow's Mite | One Priest's Response to the Election of Gene Robinson | The Great Commandment: Jesus Meant What He said | Who is blind? | Eyes on Jesus and minds on mission! | Tradition or Traditionalism? | Credo: Be doers of the Word and not hearers only." | Who do YOU say that I am? | "It's about Power and Winning" | Contact Wicomico Parish Church

The website program willnot support certain punctuationmarks, which have been automatically removed.

Easter 6C 2004 John 14:23-29
With this Sixth Sunday of Easter we have only one more Sunday in the Easter season. Sunday after that is Pentecost Sunday, the day of celebration for the birthday of the Church and for the coming of the Holy Spirit to be with that Church until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. And. Of course, the Sunday after that is Trinity Sunday, that day when we explore the deep and profound mystery of the Triune God.
In todays Gospel, our Lord promises his disciples that he will send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to the faithful people he is leaving behind. In this passage the Koine Greek term used for the Advocate is parakl12 <tos, transliterated and anglicized as Paraclete. The other term for Holy Spirit is pneuma, about which more later.
Paraclete in the New Testament Greek means one who is "called to the side of, alongside of" and hence "advocate", counselor, comforter, and helper in various translations of the Bible. It is an interesting word; it isnt just ecclesiastical gobbledygook. In the culture and thought world of the New Testament, the term seems to have had a wide range of meanings. And John's readers would have known them all.

If you had a bit too much wine and started racing your chariot around Ephesus, and you got arrested for it you would need an advocate. A defender who could represent you in court and be called as a character witness to tell the judge that this irrational behavior was really just a fluke and you were really a pretty decent human being most of the time. Such a person would be called "a paraclete." Someone who sticks up for us, who knows what we are truly like, yet will always defend us, despite ourselves. An advocate and defender.

Suppose you were an architect in need of some mathematical calculations or a trader in need of geographical surveys. Whatever the case, when a person in business contracted out labor or called in a consultant to provide expertise in a particular area, the person hired to help out was called "a paraclete." Someone who knows what we don't know and helps us with, and enables us to complete, tasks we could not do on our own. An enabler and teacher; a helper.

Suppose you were in a Roman legion, stationed someplace where the figs were sour, the sun hot, and the bugs bad. The soldiers become discouraged and morale is low. The Roman army employed special personnel to deal with such a situation. They were what we would call "motivational speakers," or Rabble-rousers, or cheerleaders, traveling about from cohort to cohort giving pep talks to the troops. These dispellers of gloom, these dispensers of inspiration were called "Paracletes." Someone who strengthens us within, and inspires us to new hope, one who operates from the assumption of success and goodness and instills in us the power to fulfill that vision? A strengthener and inspirer.
Or suppose you as a young child had lost both of your parents in a storm at sea. You were too young to take charge of the estate, even too young to take charge of your own affairs. You would need a trusted person to serve in the place of your parents and guard you from any kind of harm. A guardian and protector. (1)
The importance of this term, Paraclete is because it is a promise from our Lord. Jesus promised his disciples that they would not be abandoned when he was crucified, died, was buried, was resurrected and then ascended into heaven. God the Father would send the Paraclete in Jesus Name. A propos of Trinity Sunday we have here in this verse (Jn 14:26) all three persons of the Trinity: But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
As the Fourth Gospel makes clear, the Paraclete is the Holy Spirit, or Spirit of Truth. In fact, the Fourth Gospel's teaching about the Holy Spirit is set forth in terms of the Paraclete, who continues the work of Jesus himself (14:16-17), recalling things the earthly Jesus taught or revealing things he was unable to convey (14:26; 16:12-14). As far as the writer of Saint Johns Gospel was concerned, this spiritual knowledge or insight, unavailable until after Jesus' death and resurrection, makes for the first time Christian faith and understanding fully possible.

When Saint John speaks of the Holy Spirit in the same breath, he uses the term pneuma. The Holy Spirit, the mysterious power or presence of God in nature or with individuals and communities, inspiring or empowering them with qualities they would not otherwise possess. The term "spirit" translates the Hebrew (ruach) and Greek {pneuma} words denoting "wind," "breath," and. by extension, a life-giving element. With the adjective "holy," the reference is to the divine spirit, the Spirit of God.

In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit is an agent in creation. This is an almost impersonal representation of the Spirit by which the awesome power of God over the entirety of the universe is depicted. This is the Spirit of God moving across the face of the deep, calling the Creation into being and ordering it according to Gods Will

The Holy Spirit is also a source of inspiration and power. In the stories of the judges, kings, and prophets, the Holy Spirit becomes a vehicle of God's revelation and activity. Israel's leaders from Moses to Joshua, to the judges, to David and Solomon, to the enigmatic "Servant of God" of Isaiah receive their wisdom, courage, and power as gifts resulting from the possession of God's Spirit.

The primary example, however, is surely the inspiration of the prophets, who, because they possess -- or are possessed by -- this Spirit, speak and act with an authority and power not their own. In this connection, the Spirit can be conveyed from one person to another, as with Moses and Joshua, Saul and David, Elijah and Elisha. In the mystery of our own Holy Baptisms, the Holy Spirit is somehow conveyed by water and word.

The Holy Spirit as God's presence in the convenantal community is to a degree connected with the hope of the coming of the Messiah, the establishment of Gods kingdom on earth, and expectations of the sanctification of Israel.

Somewhat modified, these Old Testament understandings of the Holy Spirit and its work continue into the New Testament. It is the Spirit of God that endows Jesus with power as the Messiah at Jesus own Baptism and the Spirit which sends, drives, leads Jesus into the desert immediately thereafter.

It is the Holy Spirit that empowers the church for its mission, and the close relationship of Jesus to God (the incarnation) expands and significantly transforms the understanding of the Holy Spirit in Christianity as can be noted in such diverse but related expressions as "Spirit of Christ," "Spirit of the Lord," "Spirit of Jesus," and especially in those passages in which God sends "the Spirit of his Son" to the followers of Jesus. Although the doctrine of the Trinity is a later development, a number of New Testament passages suggest that the Holy Spirit is sent jointly from God the Father and God the Son, the Risen Christ.

As such, the Holy Spirit comes to represent both the presence and activity of God and the continuing presence of Jesus Christ in the church. While not unique to Saint Johns Gospel, this idea comes to fullest expression in John 14, our Gospel for today, where the Holy Spirit is described as an Advocate or "Counselor", the Paraclete -- who represents both divine presence and guidance for the disciples.

Since mention of the Holy Spirit is found in nearly every book of the New Testament, other nuances can be discerned. In Acts, there is a close connection among four elements: the proclamation of the gospel, baptism, the laying on of hands, and the reception of the Holy Spirit.

In both Acts and Paul's Letters, reception of the Holy Spirit brings the "gifts" needed for Christian ministry (as well as the lesser gift of ecstatic speech glossalalia, or speaking in tongues.) and extends the presence and power of Christ to each new generation of Christians. In the Pauline corpus, however, there is an additional dimension seen in the contrast of "flesh" with "spirit" as characteristic of life in the old age and the new age, respectively. The Spirit makes Christians one "in Christ" and empowers them, not only for the mission of the church, but also for the life appropriate to those who understand themselves to be people of the new age. (2)

And there we have it. The beginning of our exploration of the Triune God and the work of God in the world and in our lives.


1. Adapted from Emphasis Commentary for the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year C, at
2. Drawn from articles on Holy Spirit, and Paraclete in the Anchor Bible Dictionary and the Harpers Bible Dictionary.