Friday, December 18, 2015
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. John 14:16(NLT)
In this Season of Advent our church has been looking again at the promises of what and who we are to each other and the Kingdom of God as members of Christ’s body, the church.
This past Sunday’s theme was “presence”. The shepherds (Luke 2) didn’t stay “abiding in the field” – they came to the manger; they became a presence of rejoicing at what God had done. And we are to be a presence in each other’s lives, as well as Christ’s presence in this world.
Our enemy, the devil, uses doubt as his chief weapon. And so often, especially when feeling alone or a little blue, we take the bait.
There was a time years ago when much had gone wrong for our family with sickness and financial woes, and a job that wore me down like a ground-out tree stump. I took the bait, and it led directly into the parlor of despair. My dear friend Jerry Hutchinson came to the house one Sunday afternoon and sat with me for a good while. He couldn’t change any of my circumstances; my kids were still sick, the finances were a mess, and Monday morning the job would still be there. But, there was just something comforting and reassuring having a brother to share the load. It gave me courage that I wasn’t alone and the strength of hope for the days ahead.
Presence like that cannot be purchased. And there is no way to imitate the genuine presence of God’s Spirit in another coming alongside to comfort when you’re in distress!
Last Sunday, as we were coming to the close of worship, this message of presence was demonstrated to our church family so dramatically, I was blown-away by the sight.
In our church the children serve as acolytes, lighting candles representing God’s presence with us as we worship, and carrying that light out at the end of service. For the child who served last Sunday, it was her first time, and she was nervous, having a responsibility in big church where everyone would be watching. She did fine lighting the candles as the choir called us to worship, but was hesitant and unsure about what to do as we sang the last hymn.
And so, as I walked toward the candles where I meet the acolyte each week, I noticed this small child had company coming with her to the altar. Her older cousin walked with her, and stood with her, and she did just fine.
And then the rest of us made a big deal out of how well she did.
This was presence – one came alongside to help – and then many others who joined-in the comforting and strengthening of a little sister in Christ.
And that is the meaning of the word “Paraclete” – one who comes alongside.
When Jesus was teaching his disciples the hard truth that he was leaving soon, he also assured them that the One who was coming to them would never leave nor forsake them in life’s difficult times. He would be so close, so in tune with our fears, hopes, dreams and questions that it would be like He is on the inside, carrying on a God-conversation with us, encouraging, comforting, building hope and assurance.
He showed-up at Pentecost like tongues of fire, and He has been warming believers from the inside ever since!
Need a travelling companion for the tough times? He’s always there!