John 14 15 “If you love me, you will keep[a] my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate,[b] to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in[c] you. 18 “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”
So from this reading we are left with three questions- what are the commandments, what is the Spirit, and why is the world seemingly excluded for it cannot receive the spirit.
So what is the Spirit, well the greatest story (for me) is the ordination if you like of Elisha by Elijah or in another way to Curate to Incumbent -2 Kings 2:9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” Which says, that Elijah had so much natural charisma Elisha knew that he would never match up if he was to take on the prophets mantle, so he asked for a double share of the spirit. Something beyond Elijah himself, something therefore divine, the Spirit of truth.
And it happened :- 2 Kings 2:15 When the company of prophets who were at Jericho saw him at a distance, they declared, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” IN the Old Testament starting with Genesis, the understanding of the spirit is that it is a communication tool, a tendency toward wind and light.
You see words are never enough as a communication tool, words can be said and received in many different ways, words aren’t good enough, but there is a chemistry between people something unexplainable where the truth between people can be understood. Try and define this and we go wrong, with either become logical and scientific or we become religious and irrelevant and of course the answer is as always somewhere at the points where faith and science resonate and can go hand in hand on the journey toward truth. Now this is all confused with the misunderstood verse regarding the world not be able to receive the spirit. Creating almost immediately a them and us scenario, so building on what Revd Lee said last week and the misuse of scripture he elucidated so eloquently for us- it isn’t them us, we don’t have the answer, we are not above we are not separate- so what does it mean, what is the world?
This is the crux of any mission and ministry for the Church. The world and the Church are not the differences in people. All people are the same, all people are of the world and all people have a spiritual side, some choose to give a name to this spiritual side And journey with each other on this spiritual way in a like-minded manner; for example Church. The world is that which is not of the divine, but rather what the world determines is important, how the world judges success, love even. How God judges success is quite simple, “I desire mercy not sacrifice” (Hosea)
Matthew 16:- 26 For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?
2 Maaccabees:- success at the cost of one’s kindred is the greatest misfortune
Matthew 6:- 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one [a]cubit to his [b]stature? The world is not about people, but the things that dominate, that we create- money, affluence and its by product effluence, the things we strive for not the people. That is what has been noticeable about Covid19 suddenly we take note of one another, communities come together, help- suddenly what car we drive is of limited importance, not many people can see it. This is what the world was like this time last year and we don’t want to to go back to it. We want the new normal to be a change, for the spirit is open to all people but some may exclude themselves by concentrating on the worldly things, they don’t have to, which we have demonstrated we don’t have to, the spirit is there for all.
So therefore we are left with the final question; What are the commandments? Well if we focus on the divine, which is what we see in each other, even if hidden under the grotesque, rejected, vulnerable, despised. Then we follow the commandments. For the Spirit is open to all, that makes it Holy. Holy isn’t about being exclusive, anything Holy is Holy because it precisely excludes no one, it rejects no-one, it accepts everyone. A Holy place is Holy for everything, everyone without exception. A Holy person the same.
A definition of Holiness is Universalist in my opinion. Quite often this Holy person is the dohansha, The unsuccessful but in God’s eyes we are very different and the divine success’ who are true success’ in the ways no one really understands. A true Holy Spirit, needs to be accessible to all. True religion needs to be universal, a religion not of answers but simply seeking the genuine love of God, standing on the precipice looking at the chasm where once our sure uncompromising faith used to be.