Sermons 2007
"Come, Holy Spirit, Come" Easter 6C, 13 May 2007, John 14:23-29

Home | In the Beginning was the Word, Christmas Day, 25 December 2007, John 1:1-14 | What's Missing? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2007, Luke 2:1-20 | Joseph, the Forgotten One, Advent 4A, 23 December 2007, Matthew 1:18-25 | Come with Joy, Advent 3A, 16 December 2007, Matthew 11:2-11 | Darkness or Light? Advent 1A, 2 December 2007, Matthew 24:37-44 | What Kind of King is He? Proper 29C, 25 November 2007, Luke 23:35-43 | Predictions and the Horseman of the Apocalypse, Proper 28C, 18 Nov 2007, Luke 31:5-19 | Just passing through? Proper 27C , 11 November 2007, Luke 20:20-38 | Not like others? Proper 25C, 28 October 2007, Luke 18:9-14 | "We are bold to say", Proper 24C, 21 October 2007, Luke 18:1-8a | "The ten lepers", Proper 23C, 14 October 2007, Luke 17:11-19 | Proper 22C and Holy Baptism, 7 October 2007 | A taste of cool water, Proper 21C, 30 September 2007, Luke 16:19-31 | We hear what we want to hear, Proper 20C, 23 September 2007, Luke 16:1-13 | "Lost -- but found!" Proper 19C, 16 September 2007, Luke 15:1-10 | "Who is coming to dinner?" Proper 17C, 2 September 2007, Luke 14:1, 7-14 | Doors and narrow gates, Proper 16C, 26 August 2007, Luke 13:22-30 | "Fire to the earth", Proper 15C, 19 August 2007, Luke 12:49-56 | "Do not be afraid, little flock', Proper 14C, 12 August 2007, Luke 12:32-40 | "How much is enough?" Proper 13C , 5 August 2007, Luke 12:13-21 | "Lord, teach us to pray" Proper 12C, 29 July 2007, Luke 11:1-13 | "The Better Part?" Proper 11C, 22 July 2007, Luke 10:38-42 | The Good Samaritan -- the Summary of the Law" Proper 10C, 15 July 2007, Luke 10:25-37 | "Travel Light!" Proper 9C, 8 July 2007, Luke 10:1-12, 16-20 | "Independence Day" Proper 8C, 1 July 2007, Luke 9:51-62 | "Three Questions", Proper 7C, 24 Jun 2007, Luke 9:18-24 | "In or Out?" Proper 6C, 17 June 2007, Luke 7:36-50 | "On Grace", Proper 5C, 10 June 2007, Luke 7:11-17 | Trinity C, 3 June 2007 | Pentecost C, 27 May 2007 | "Unity and Diversity" Easter 7C, 20 May 2007, John 17:20-26 | "Come, Holy Spirit, Come" Easter 6C, 13 May 2007, John 14:23-29 | "What is this thing called love?" Easter 5C, 6 May 2007, John 13:31-35 | "Numbers and Sheep", Easter 4C, 29 April 2007, John 10:22-30 | Virginia Tech, Easter 3C, 22 April 2007 Revelation 6:8-10 | Thomas Doubter and Believer, Easter 2C, 15 April 2007. John 20: 19-31 | ""Why do you look for the living among the dead?" Easter Sunday, 8 April 2007, Luke 24:1-10 | Good Friday 6 April 2007 | Maundy Thursday 5 April 2007 | Why are we not surprised? Palm/Passion Sunday C, 1 April 2007, Luke 22:39-23:50 | Party or Pout? Lent 4C, 18 March 2007, Luke 15:11-32 | To Stand on the Mountaintop, Lent 3C, 11 March 2007, Exodus 3:1-15 | "Ways Not Taken", Lent 2C, 4 March 2007. Luke 13:22-35 | "Liminal Thresholds and Lintels", Lent 1C, 25 February 2007, Luke 4:1-13 | Ash Wednesday Meditation 2007 | "Transfiguration and Transformation, Epiphany Last C, 18 February 2007, Luke 9:28-36 | "Weal and Woe", Epiphany 6C, 11 February 2007, Luke 6:17-26 | "Who, me?" Epiphany 5C, 4 February 2007, Luke 5:1-11 | "Filled with rage!" Epiphany 4C, 28 January 2007, Luke 4:21-32 | "The Spirit of the Lord is upon us," Epiphany 3C, 21 January 2007, Luke 4:14-21 | "Weddings and Miracles," Epiphany 2C, 14 January 2007, John 2:1-11 | Schism and Epiphany, Epiphany 1C, 7 Dec 2007, Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Easter 6C 2007 John 14:23-29

At the last meeting of the Commission on Ministry of the Diocese of Virginia, one young person was being interviewed for postulancy. Postulancy is the first grant of major permission for a person to seek ordination. When asked who Jesus was for her, she burst into tears and as she wept told of standing at the foot of her father’s bed as he died. She was sobbing deeply, inconsolably. Then she said she could feel Jesus’ hands on her shoulders carrying her through and beyond this deepest moment of her grief. And that she had never lost the sense that he was still there with her wherever she was.

When her interview was finished, one member of the commission, a medical person, announced that stories like that scared her to death. Most of the rest of us rejoined that, yes, such moments were scary, being touched by the hand of God for whatever reason, but that they were also holy moments and most of us in the room had experienced it. But being typical Episcopalians we didn’t talk much about it.

I suspect there are some of us in here who have had the experience of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus, laying hands on us. We just don’t talk about it.

In today’s Gospel, our Lord promises his disciples that he will send the Advocate, the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to the faithful people he is leaving behind. In this passage the Koine Greek term used for the Advocate or Comforter is parakletos, transliterated and anglicized as Paraclete. The other Greek term for Holy Spirit is pneuma.

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. 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 ever had trouble with the ancient police 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. Someone who sticks up for us, who knows what we are truly like, yet will always defend us, despite ourselves. An advocate and defender: "a paraclete."

Suppose you were an architect in need of some mathematical calculations or a trader in need of market surveys. The expert subcontracted or hired to provide expertise in a particular area 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 and the soldiers discouraged. The Roman army employed special personnel to deal with such a situation. They were rabble-rousers, or cheerleaders, going from cohort to cohort giving pep talks. 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 a young child had lost both of parents in a storm at sea. Too young to take charge of the estate, even too young to take charge of its own affairs the child would need a trusted person to serve in the place of parents and guard it from any kind of harm. A paraclete: a comforter, guardian and protector. (1)

This term, Paraclete is important 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 ascended into heaven. God the Father would send the Paraclete in Jesus Name. In this verse (Jn 14:26) are 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 Spirit of God, the 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, recalling things the earthly Jesus taught or revealing things he was unable. As far as Saint John’s 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 per se, 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 life giving Spirit of God.

In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit is an agent in creation 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 God’s Will

The Holy Spirit is also a source of inspiration and power. The primary examples are 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, the disciples at Pentecost. In the mystery of our own Holy Baptisms, the Holy Spirit is somehow conveyed by water and word.

The Holy Spirit empowers the church for its mission. and is both the presence and activity of God and the continuing presence of Jesus Christ in the church. (2)

In the words of the ancient hymn, “Come, Holy Spirit, Come.” Put your hands on our shoulders.


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 Harper’s Bible Dictionary.