Sunday 27th March 2022

Reading: John 16:5-16

Reflection

Goodbye, a sad word or a happy one? What are the occasions when we say goodbye? When we look at the news bulletins on our TV screens coming to us from Ukraine there can be no doubt goodbye is a sad word as mothers and sons, husbands and wives, fathers and children say good bye, and who knows if they will ever say hello again. The other side of goodbye could be when waving a loved one off at the airport. They may be going off on some great adventure or returning home after a family get together. This can be a mixed emotion goodbye as we are happy for them and the adventure that lies ahead but also sad for ourselves as the visit has come to an end. Of course we have all experienced that ultimate sad time with the final goodbye as a loved one dies and we are left in grief, but even there for those who live and die if faith this is not a final goodbye. We have experienced the ultimate happy goodbye when the grandchildren go home after a sleepover and you cry out, cheerio now, and breath. Jesus opens up our reading with a goodbye speech that is a sad one for the disciples to hear. Or does he? ‘Because I have said these things you are filled with grief’. Yes, it would definitely appear to be sad, but wait. ‘It is for your own good I am going away’. Well, maybe it’s not sad after all. Everything they had placed their future hope on was surrounded in Jesus. Now he is to go they see no future. As we discover in the Book of Acts. It was only after Jesus had gone and the Spirit had come that they fully understood all those messages of Jesus. It was then they became full of joy and proclaimed the good news from nation to nation, from people to people, in the strength and power of this Counsellor that Jesus speaks of here in verse seven. He tells them as much toward the end of the reading in verse thirteen, ‘he will guide you into all truth.’ It will be the work of the Spirit to complete the teaching of the truth, the truth which Jesus had introduced them to. It will be the work of the Spirit to lead them forward into new things. The same Spirit that is at work in our lives leading us forward into the new things of our generation and the life of the church as it reshapes itself to face the changes and challenges that undoubtedly lie ahead. Then that assurance once more is given of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit being one with each other. The sadness of the goodbye to Jesus for his disciples is to be matched by the happiness of greeting the Spirit as another gift from God, a new gift that can only be theirs as Jesus says goodbye. Goodbye, a sad word or a happy one? It can really all depend on you and what type of character you are. If you are one of life’s negative people who has a glass that is half empty then it will probably be a sad word because you are being taken out of your comfort zone as you lament over the things you leave behind things you know and feel safe with. If on the other hand you are one of life’s positive people who has a glass that is half full then it will probably be a happy word because you are being taken out of your comfort zone you are aware and ready, welcoming the new challenges that will lie ahead, you will look forward with excitement at the possibilities of doing some new things rather than dreading the letting go of the old ways. Goodbye, a sad word or a happy one? Can it every truly fall into one or other category or is it always tinged by a bit of both? This tension exists right up to the final verse.

‘In a little while you will see me no more, then after a little while you will see me.’

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