Submitted by Lyn on Fri, 21/05/2010 – 15:43
Year C (2009-2010)
Bible Book: John / Johannes
Verse: 8 – 21
The context of Jesus’s conversation here in John 14:8-21 is (as subdivision of John 14-17) that of Jesus saying goodbye to his disciples. Jesus explained that He will be handed over to the enemy, that He will be betrayed, that He will be killed and that his disciples will abandon Him. This confused, shocked and grieved his disciples deeply. They found themselves at a crossing where they were about to lose the presence and closeness of Jesus!
This crisis that the disciples experienced, is one of the greatest that many persons can encounter: to lose the companionship of a loved one – to be left alone! In spite of the ideals of the times in which we live – proffering self-reliance, self-sufficiency and independence as symbols of success – one of our most profound fears is still that of ‘loneliness’. The ‘emptiness of being alone’.
For believers who form part of an active congregation, or are privileged enough to have a happy family life, who know dedicated relatives and true friends, ‘loneliness’ may merely be a distant, unknown threat. But to be able to understand the impact of Jesus’s words of comfort in John 14:8-21, it is necessary to look into the abyss of this ‘emptiness of being alone’. One way of doing this, is to imagine what the disciples must have felt when it became clear to them that their Master was to be taken from them.
Another way of beginning to understand something of the ‘emptiness of being alone’, is to discover what it really means when somebody not only becomes aware of his/her own HIV+ status, but also experiences (or fears) that his/her loved ones or friends find it an unacceptable status.
To his disciples who were standing at the abyss of loneliness, Jesus gave the assurance of the presence of the Holy Spirit in John 14. Yes, He was leaving, but no, they would not be left on their own. Through the Holy Spirit He would still be with them. The promise and the presence of the Holy Spirit drew them – and will draw us – from the abyss of loneliness.
The Holy Spirit came “that He may abide with you forever” (v16 –NKJV). Therefore we celebrate Pentecost, for the Holy Spirit came to deliver us from loneliness.
Those who have experienced this ‘deliverance from loneliness’, will not be able to stand by and watch people being stigmatised and become alienated because of it.
To think about or discuss: What can congregations do to ensure that there are no lonely people in their midst? Especially not people who are lonely because they are afraid that their HIV status will become known?
Author: N du Toit (Ds)