I’m really digging our church‘s latest theme for our Sunday meetings. It’s about ‘sacred space’, and it’s kinda blowing my mind. To think about space/time from the perspective of several disciplines (physics, psychology/therapy, music, and liturgy, plus all of the other ideas that get thrown on the fire by everyone in the room) is a stretching and enlightening experience, indeed.
This morning, we spent some time looking at John 14, which turns out to be a tale of spatial and temporal chaos. Jesus addresses his followers, telling them all about how he is going and coming. But following him– going with him– is not understandable or possible in any logical fashion, even for those who know him best. Or at least they don’t understand the manner in which all of this will happen. They even try to ask what seem to be humble, honest questions, which doesn’t seem to help them or Jesus.
After expressing some frustration at their lack of understanding, Jesus seems to offer a kind of provisional gift for this time between when he will ‘go’ and when he will ‘return’: the Paraclete, the Advocate, the Holy Spirit. Who is another– though lesser– spatial and temporal conundrum: The Spirit is coming in the future, and yet somehow Jesus expects his followers to know The Spirit already. The Holy Spirit is new, and also old and familiar, all at once.
And then in the end, Jesus himself promises his continuing presence, and his love and compassion. And then, he says he’s leaving again. Which must have been terribly confusing 2000 years ago, and which might be even more confusing today. And yet, there is tremendous comfort here, at the same time, and in the same space.