Easter 6 C * May 13, 2007 * Mother’s Day, Rogation Sunday* JTCO
Whoever thought that playing peek-a-boo would be so important? As it turns out, one of the very earliest developmental lessons babies learn is what called object permanence – that is, that a thing or person still continues to exist even we can’t see it or them. Little babies learn this through endless games and by learning to trust that when they cry someone will come. If they don’t learn it, they stay anxious, clingy, fearful every time someone needs to come or go.
The first is that we are right around the corner from the feast of the Ascension in which Jesus finally does take leave of the disciples after forty of days of being present with them, and which we’ll mark next Sunday, the day in which the resurrected Lord returns to the Father. The second reason is that Jesus is making a promise, the fulfillment of which is gift both to them and us – that the Father will send the Holy Spirit.
My goodness, what parent doesn’t make promises to a child? And, as you know, broken promises can badly compromise any relationship but particularly with parents and children. What parents has not heard that terrible wail usually accompanied by tears…”But….you promised!”?
So, let’s take a deeper look at what Jesus is saying to the disciples as he gets them ready for his departure…Jesus gives us three promises to offset the disciples’ and our anxiety about object permanence. I’d like to add a fourth dimension for consideration. All of these speak to how we know that the Risen Lord is with us.
Jesus promises us that when we keep his word, we will know his living presence and the presence of Father inwardly…and it goes beyond just remembering …This makes sense if you think about it. Here I am thinking about some of the sayings in our family…from time to time, I think about or remember something a family member has said…for instance, my great aunt Fanny who died years ago at the age of 106. Aunt Fancy was a maiden great aunt – never married - , a great wit and could really turn a phrase. Here is one of our family stories about a saying of Aunt Fancy’s. My sister Susan had taken her to church – First Presbyterian Church in
Julian of Norwich, 14th century mystic, whose feast day we kept this past week, gets at this when she describes the following vision she had…She describes seeing God holding a tiny thing in his hand, like a small brown nut, which seemed so fragile and insignificant that she wondered why it did not crumble before her eyes. She understood that the thing was the entire created universe, which is as nothing compared to its Creator, and she was told, "God made it, God loves it, God keeps it." So too with us, God made us, loves us and keeps us.
I wonder how many of you have had that experience of the peace that passes understanding… it is not rational…this is another way that Jesus communicates his continuing love and presence with us.
3. The Third promise of presence is that He will ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit…and we will say more about that in the next two weeks.
4. The Fourth way of knowing God’s presence with us…and this is not
 James G. Somerville ( in "Who Will Take Care of Us?" in The Christian Century, May 6, 1998, p. 471)