Monday, May 21, 2012

Gospel text for Sunday, 29 May 2012

John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

Jesus said to his disciples, "When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.

"I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But, now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, `Where are you going?' But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.

"I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you."

1 comment:

  1. Jesus said to the disciples, “(The Spirit) will take what is mine and declare it to you.” Ann Hutchison, the well-educated daughter of a cleric in England, apparently took Jesus’ words to heart. She claimed to have an “immediate or unmediated experience of God’ presence. She claimed her religious experience gave her wisdom, discernment and certainty. But it was the 17th century and women were understood to be property of men. They were not to think or speak their mind. So when, In the early 17th century Hutchinson and her family joined a Puritan community to journey to the New World and soon thereafter her ‘teachings’ that faith rather than rigid adherence to oppressive Puritan rules was the ticket to heaven and that individuals could and should read and interpret the Bible for themselves, the men in power were outraged. Hutchinson was challenging their authority and the sovereign rule of the Church.

    The Puritan version of religious freedom was, other groups of people were free to worship as they pleased however, within their purified community Puritan salvation was earned by strict adherence to the rules and ways of thinking prescribed by the men in power. How ironic. Now the Puritan clerics were oppressing their flocks in the same manner the Roman and Protestants churches had oppressed them and propelled them to break away and move to the New World. But Ann Hutchinson could not be silenced. She encouraged her followers to examine their own conscience, to make life choices in accord with their understanding of the Bible and their personal experience of the Spirit. (Remember, “(The Spirit) will take what is mine and declare it to you”). Hutchinson declared that racial and religious prejudice was wrong as was the practice of retaining Indians as slaves. Hutchinson’s exercise of her religious and intellectual freedom won her condemnation by the men in power who sent her and her family and followers into exile.

    So there it is. The ceaseless struggle between the established Church and the Spirit of truth that breathes where ever it wills, that declares “the things that are to come… and proves the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment.” As a cleric in the 21st century established Church I find myself steeped in this struggle between the institution that seeks to preserve the gifts of order and tradition and the windy Spirit stirring the hearts of many who claim to be ‘spiritual and not religious.’ Ann Hutchinson loved her Church and wanted it to flourish. And at the same time she saw through the layers of established authority to the heart of Christian faith; the Advocate, the Spirit of truth, given to every believer so that we too will testify to the truth because we have been with the Christ “from the beginning.” So what is a post-modern cleric to do? Hold the rock of the Church and the windy Spirit with open hands and a servant’s heart and pray like mad for the grace to accord with the will and the way of the One who sends the Spirit to breathe new life in the Church.