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The Paraclete

The Paraclete

The Apostles’ Creed #9

John 14:15-7; 15:26-27; 16:12-14

We believe in God the Father Almighty, the Creator of the heavens and the earth. We believe in Jesus Christ, his one and only Son, our Lord. And we believe in the Holy Ghost (or Spirit). God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Trinity, the three in one. Three persons one God.

I think we will all agree, that this has been a tough 13 or so months… The pandemic, politics, the economy, death, grief, have all combined to make this past year a difficult one for sure. Sometimes it makes even the most faithful and faith-filled among us wonder, is God even there? Is He here? Does He care about me, and my concerns?

An old Fisherman’s prayer, paraphrased by me, reads “O God, the sea is so great… and my boat is so small.” Can you relate? Do you ever feel that way? I know I do! Sometimes it seems that our problems are just too big, too large, too overwhelming. We’re so small, and powerless, so weak. We sometimes feel alone in our weakness.

But, we are not alone! As followers of Christ, we’re NEVER alone... because, “bidden or not bidden, God is present.”

The Holy Spirit, is the presence of God that’s always with us. Be it corporately, as in... when we gather in God’s house as God’s people (where two or more gathered together... God is present), or personally… as in the Holy Spirit is with me, in the midst of my joys and sorrows... my happiness and heartache, my triumphs and my trials... The Holy Spirit is with me in my life.

And the Holy Spirit’s not just a New Testament thing, either. The Holy Spirit was present in the Old Testament, too! The Holy Spirit was there at the very beginning, as God’s Spirit “hovered over the waters” of creation (Genesis 1:2). God would later send the Holy Spirit upon individuals… Such as Samson and David, and the Prophets... they all experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Of course, the promise was for the Holy Spirit to be poured out on all mankind on every individual no matter how great or how small (Joel 2).

The fact is when you and I profess belief in the Holy Spirit... what we’re saying is... we believe in the active, participatory, present... presence of God. Our God, who is always present in the life of those place their trust in Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit allows us to know that God is with us, through every joy and every sorrow. Even when it doesn’t necessarily feel that way.

Of course, as we’ve read and heard in our Scripture Lessons... Jesus himself called the Holy Spirit the “Spirit of Truth”… Jesus is the truth, as in Christ is the “Way, the truth, and the life.” So the Holy Spirit’s job is to remind us of the Truth, to keep us connected to the Truth, to teach us about Jesus… To testify to Christ in our lives.

And as the Spirit testifies to the truth... part of the Spirit‘s role is to convict us of sin. Helping us to see our need for Christ, as the Spirit draws us into a stronger, deeper relationship with our redeemer.

In other words… the role and purpose of the Holy Spirit is to show us... to reveal to each and everyone of us, both who and Whose we are. The Holy Spirit reveals to us the Truth about who Christ is… while at the very same time revealing the truth, about who we are. And if we don’t like the truth about ourselves, the Spirit enables us to do something about it!

Of course, the end result, the end goal… is transformation. Our transformation.

As you and I grow, as we mature in our faith. As we learn what it means to walk with Jesus as the way, the truth, the life, we begin to look more and more like Jesus. Maybe in small ways, no doubt (I mean, I don’t see any of us walking on water anytime soon!). But we begin to reflect the image, the love, compassion, forgiveness, of Christ himself. The Holy Spirit accomplishes that through God’s Word...

The Holy Spirit reveals to us the Word of God. The very Bible that we read and accept as authoritative and wholly sufficient for our lives and faith, was inspired by the Holy Spirit. And it’s The Holy Spirit who opens our hearts, our minds, and our souls, to what God’s word actually means, for us as God’s people… and for us as individual followers of Christ. It’s been said that if you want to be “filled with the Holy Spirit, be saturated with the Word of God.”

The Holy Spirit also reveals the Truth to us through community... our faith community... the Church... as we gather together... as we pray for one another... as we intentionally carry one another’s burdens, and share compassion and joy, and sorry and celebration, together! The Spirit moves in our relationships.

So Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Truth... but he also calls the Spirit, “Counselor.” The Greek word translated counselor is “Paraclete” - it’s a word that we struggle to fully translate cleanly into English - as is the case with many Greek and Hebrew works.

So we do the best we can... Paraclete basically means, one who stands beside and encourages/equips. So we use words like, Comforter, Helper, Advocate... in an attempt to describe and explain who the Holy Spirit is...

But suffice it to say... the Holy Spirit is all of these things. The HS comforts us in our grief, encourages us in our doubts, inspires us in our frustration.

The Holy Spirit tempers our pride... lifts us in our fears, and reminds us that we are loved. Even when we don’t feel very lovable. The Holy Spirit is the actual, real, and expressible presence of God in our ordinary, everyday lives. That part of God that we can know, and feel and experience in this life...

Hymns reflect that experience: We sing “He Touched Me...” - not literally - but spiritually - by the Holy Spirit.

Or... “I Can Hear My Savior Calling” - again, not audibly. I’ve never heard a physical, audible voice: but spiritually, discerning God voice from all the other voices that compete for our attention.

And add to that... Romans 8:16, which reminds us, “The [Holy] Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”

Again, the Spirit reminds us both who, and Whose we are.

What a comforting, encouraging, life giving promise! The “still, small voice” - the voice of the Holy Spirit - whispering time and again, that God loves even me.

Jesus has in fact, sent us another comforter, to help us in our weaknesses...

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