Trinity Sunday – John 16:5-15

After trying other things for a couple of years, I’ve just started using the St. James Daily Devotional Guide again. This was the mainstay of my devotional reading and prayers for several years before that. It’s a simple Bible reading plan that’s easy to follow and adapt you your schedule. It’s sensitive to the liturgical church year, which I appreciate.

Today is Trinity Sunday and in the Gospel reading in John 16:5-15 Jesus draws our attention to the importance of an all-too-often discomfiting and (therefore) neglected member of the Trinity: The Holy Spirit. We may have a familiar image of God as Father and creator of the universe. His human incarnation we know as Jesus Christ in the Gospels. But the Holy Spirit is harder to conceptualize. The other two images are easier for us to manipulate, control and keep at a distance in accordance with our own desires. The Holy Spirit is dynamic, unpredictable, uncontrollable. Our relationship with a distant Father figure or a flesh and blood historical person can be “kept in its place” at our end. But who can escape the presence of a Spirit or avoid a confrontation with him?

Jesus says that it is to his disciples’ benefit that he go away because the coming of the Helper, the Holy Spirit, allows us to relate to God in a much less limited way. This is good for us whether it makes us feel comfortable or not. Indeed, Jesus says that the Holy Spirit’s coming will make many people uncomfortable. What to make of vv. 8-10, where Jesus tells us so? The three ways and reasons that Jesus gives for the discomfiting nature of the Holy Spirit all seem to have to do with the separation between God and his creatures. As the Holy Spirit, God comes alive in the very lives of those who serve him. We Christians ought to be the evidence that helps others to believe and repent of their sin, displaying in our own lives God’s goodness and love, and exposing by contrast all evil for what it it is.

God is not content to be distant, controlled or ignored by those who call themselves by his name. The Holy Spirit guides us into all truth. He doesn’t let us get comfortable with our own self deceptions. He is the very essence of any real and alive relationship with God. We best not ignore him, even if his work makes us uneasy at times, because he is the only way that all that belongs to the Father and the Son comes to us.

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