Easter 6 A: You have an Advocate!

John 14:15-21

Dear Partner in Preaching,

You have an advocate! Someone who is looking out for you. Someone who is on your side. Someone who encourages you and supports you. Someone who speaks up for you and is willing to hang in there with you through thick and thin.

So, before going forward, take a moment and think about what it feels like to hear that – that someone has your back, that someone is invested in your future, that someone will not give up on you…no matter what.

It feels good. More than that, it feels like a relief, especially when you feel like your back is up against the wall. Even more than that, it feels empowering, like when someone is with you and for you, you can take risks, you can try things you didn’t think you’d try, not because you won’t ever fail, but because failure won’t destroy you when you’ve got this kind of support. You can try, and try again, and try yet again because you have an advocate.

And guess what? This is exactly what Jesus says it in today’s reading. You have an advocate. Except it’s the Advocate – capital “A” – because it’s the Holy Spirit. More than that, this isn’t the first advocate, but the second. The first was Jesus. That’s right. Jesus was and is your Advocate, and when he is about to leave his disciples, knowing how hard the path set before them would be, he promises to send another Advocate – someone who will love them as much as he did.

Think again how good, comforting, and empowering it feels to know that you have an Advocate.

Now think how important it will be for your people to hear this. That they have an advocate – indeed, the Advocate.

Many of us have been worried of late by the deteriorating political and social climate of our country and, indeed, around the globe. And many of us, myself included, have often approached this challenge by addressing issues – issues that are important, issues that we care about and believe God cares about. All well and good – issues matter! – but I’d like to offer an additional focus.

Because here’s the thing: it’s hard to be generous and brave and compassionate when you’re afraid, or feel like no one hears you, or suspect that no one or is looking out for you. And while there are a lot of conclusions that someone can draw from the 2016 election, one of the conclusions I’ve drawn is the unbelievable number of people – including a whole lot in our congregations – who feel disenfranchised, not heard, left behind, left out. Maybe you and I think it’s fair and understandable that they feel this way, or maybe we don’t. It almost doesn’t matter. Because – and again – it’s hard to be generous and brave and compassionate when you’re afraid, or feel like no one hears you, or suspect no one is looking out for you.

And we can begin to address that. This week. This Sunday. This sermon.

So tell them, Dear Partner, tell that you know – and that God knows! – that many feel abandoned and orphaned (goodness, but the power in the language of this week’s reading!) of late, and that all of us feel that way from time to time. And then tell them that God is with them. Even here, even now. That God came in Christ in order that we might see what God wants for us – all of us! – health and healing and community and blessing and more, all of which are summed up in John by the phrase “abundant life.”

God came in Christ and lived and offered this abundant life even when it upset those who wanted to control life, even when it cost Jesus his life. In fact, God came in Christ and was willing to suffer and die on the cross in order that we might know just how much God loves us and just how far God is willing to go to show us God’s profound love.

But that wasn’t enough. So God also raised Jesus from the dead to show us that nothing – not even death itself – can keep God from loving us and redeeming the whole world.

And that still wasn’t enough. So God continues to come in the Holy Spirit in order to encourage us and look out for us and care for us and stay with us and walk along side of us. In short, God comes in the Holy Spirit to be like Christ for us…every day! God comes in the Holy Spirit to be another Advocate, our Advocate, who will not give up on us…ever.

So tell them that, Dear Partner, because they need to hear it. I need to hear it. You need to hear it. What a blessing to preach it. Thank you. Even more, thank God for you.

Yours in Christ,