Message from the chaplain - 19 May 2017

Jesus to his disciples, in John 14:15-17:

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.”

It is tempting to summarise faith in Christ as keeping Christ’s commandments or as being a good person, particularly if we read Jesus’ words out of context. We must remember that Jesus is talking to his beloved disciples – those who have lived with him, watched his deeds and listened to his every word for three years. Jesus’ listeners are those who love Christ dearly, and who are anxious at what Christ has to say, as the above words form part of Christ’s farewell discourse, en route to his death on a cross and his resurrection.

Christ’s words to his disciples cannot be understood except within the loving relationship he has with his disciples. Thus, keeping Christ’s commandments ows out of an intimate relationship with Christ. That relationship is absolutely central to our faith: like the disciples, we, disciples today, will be led by the Holy Spirit – “Advocate” and “Spirit of truth” – because we know Christ. If we spend time in prayer, just being in God’s loving presence, the Spirit will work within us to slowly change us into Christ’s likeness.

We do not need to know what to say in our prayers: reading the Bible as the words of our God, whom we love so dearly that we yearn to hear God’s words for us in the here and now, will lead us into an awareness of God’s presence. Oftentimes, such an awareness has no words at all.

Revd Claudia Coustas