Come and Listen
Come and listen, all you who fear God,
And I will tell you what he has done for me!-Psalm 66
We pray that his promises exceed all that we can desire – and we may as well admit it: we desire an awful lot! Can we separate out what we need from what we want when naming our desires?
Meanwhile the psalmist opines, Our God is in the heavens – he does as he pleases! You don’t have to like it, you don’t get to vote on it. What a God! Their gods are made of human hands and live in shrines made by human hands. Their gods are made of silver and gold - religion cast as money! They have feet but they cannot walk; they have eyes but they cannot see; they have ears but they cannot hear; they have mouths but they cannot speak; they cannot even make a sound with their throat! And any god that cannot clear its throat will never get you out of exile.
Meanwhile, how much misogyny and racism and drug addiction and nativism and religious bigotry and debt and alcoholism and misinformation and alternative facts and wars on people and wars on drugs and wars on wars does a society have to have before it admits it is living in exile?
Then he says, “I’m in you, and you’re in me, and He is We, and We are all together,
Coo coo ca choo!”
And he says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” And what are his commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. Love one another as I have loved you. And love your neighbor as yourself!
And how has he loved us? With all his heart, all his mind and all his strength, not considering his equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the life of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit. And he promises to send us an Advocate – the breath of truth, the true breath. He gives us breath, the true breath. Breath – that mysterious air that distinguishes life from death.
He leaves us not alone. This Advocate, this True Breath, is given, as life is given, as all is given, as all is gift! The Earth is the Lord’s and all that is therein! Jesus promises to blow breath into those who keep his commandments. Just as God blew breath into the first man and woman in the Garden.
This breath is the true breath that brings Jesus to life after death on the cross. This is resurrection breath. Giving us this breath gives us a portion of God’s essence, the breath, wind and spirit that blew over the face of the waters in creation becomes our very essence. True breath gives new life, reborn life, resurrection life. Real life beyond life with the idols of silver and gold – religion cast as money. True Breath to resurrect those living in exile, to resurrect our dry bones.
Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he has done for me, for us, for all. “I’m in you, and you’re in me, and He is We, and We are all together, Coo coo ca choo!”
Jesus’ last gift was the Paraclete or Advocate, the Spirit of Truth, or the True Breath – what we casually now call the Holy Spirit. Later in John’s Gospel, on the evening of resurrection, he literally breathes this Spirit of Truth on the disciples.
A colleague pointed out the other day that in Greek culture, which had heavily influenced Israel before the Romans came along, the Advocate was someone in a courtroom separate from your lawyer and separate from the judge. This parakletos was an independent intercessor who could interrupt the proceedings at any time on your, on our, behalf. As Jesus earlier says to Nicodemus, this spirit comes from we know not where and takes us we know not where, where we have never imagined going.
Our colleague went on to say, Here’s how it all sets up. We are to love one another as he loves us. He knows that one day God the Father will be our judge on all of this love, Jesus will be our lawyer, and the Spirit shall be our parakletos, or intervening Advocate. It looks as if the odds are stacked in our favor! And this parakletos is the True Breath or Breath of Truth, the very Breath he breathes on us, is the very breath that gives us life, and not just life, but eternal life.
All three, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are in this narrative from the fourteenth chapter of John, appearing together for the first time. He concludes this portion, “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.” Words meant to both comfort us and challenge us. They challenge us to remember just who we are and whose we are.
“Then peace will guide the planets, and love will steer the stars!”
“We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year-old carbon, caught in the devil’s bargain. And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.”
Master Eckhart once said: Man’s best chance of finding God is looking in the place where he left him. Where did we leave him? That’s where we’ll find him. Or, maybe the True Breath, the Spirit of Truth, will find us first!