We want a Jesus we can feel and see and touch, we want to know that He is with us. Over my years with college girls, I’ve lost count of how many have said to me, “I know God loves me, but I want something more. I want a love I can feel, arms around me, a hand to hold.” I have felt that myself.
And over the centuries, the words of Jesus echo
I am with you, always.
On Sunday the Christian church around the world will celebrate Pentecost, remembering the day the resurrected Christ fulfilled His promise to send a Helper, a means through which God’s people could live always with His presence.
The disciples had Jesus. The presence of God right in front of them. They could see, hear, touch God.
But Jesus said there was something better. Better than Jesus? Better than God right in front of them, God they could see with their eyes, touch with their hands, hear with their ears?
“I didn’t tell you this earlier because I was with you every day. But now I am on my way to the One who sent me. Not one of you has asked, ‘Where are you going?’ Instead, the longer I’ve talked, the sadder you’ve become. So let me say it again, this truth: It’s better for you that I leave. If I don’t leave, the Friend won’t come. But if I go, I’ll send him to you. (John 16:4-7, The Message)
Do we believe this? I see the promise right there in my Bible. But it doesn’t seem possible that what we have is better than what the disciples had. Could it be possible that Jesus has kept His promise to be with us, always?
As we long for something more, something better, is it possible that we already have what we need?
Pentecost is not a holiday I have ever celebrated, never mentioned in my church tradition. And I wonder, why not? At Christmas, we celebrate God with Us. Through Lent and Easter, we meditate on what Jesus did on the cross. But Jesus Himself says something better is coming.
The first chapters of God’s story see Him creating human beings, His people, to live in His presence, in His place. As the story comes to a close, we see God moving in to live, His presence with His people in His place. This is the story of God, the theme of the Bible from beginning to end: God’s people in His place, in His presence.
At the root of every promise is the Presence of God.
In the gift of God’s Spirit, we have God with us. The keeping of the promise to be with us always. We have God’s presence, in His people, in His place.
And that is something to celebrate.
It is truth that speaks right to my own insecurities and rejection. God is with me. It is truth for every college girl who’s told me how she longs for arms to hold her. God is with you. And it is truth for any situation or circumstance we can face in this broken, hurting world. God is with us.
As we enter into this week before Pentecost, I want to ask myself (and I want to ask you)
Is He present with me? How do I celebrate that?
And am I present to Him? How do I practice that?
A prayer of welcoming and repentance:
Come Holy spirit, we welcome you.
Thank you Father for being a God who longs to be with your people. You are a God of relationship, a God of connection, a God who does not ask us to live for you, but who longs for us to live with you.
I repent from my desire for what I can see, hear, touch. I repent from believing that what is seen is better than what is unseen. I receive your promise that You are with me.
Thank You Spirit for being God with us. As we enter into the hurts and hard in this broken world, let us carry Your presence with us. You are the answer, You are what we need. But I don’t know how to live in this reality. Spirit, will you lead us into this truth?