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Bring it here, bring it now

2018 has, thus far, been a year of people leaving. 

Now, the length of time those people have left for has varied enormously. Some of them have died which, for us humans, feels like a fairly total departure however we may make sense of that departure in the light of our faith.  Some of them have left for a little while, but the length of time they have left for has not been determined.  Some of them have left for a set amount of time and we know we know, at least roughly, when we might see them again. And some of them have changed, which feels also like a sort of leaving.
But the type of ‘leaving’ is not what we are called to think about today. 

Rather, we are invited to consider the impact someone’s departure has on us. On our hearts and our minds and our souls. 
Jesus has left the disciples.  He has died and came back to proclaim the Good News of life over death. And then gone off again. 

And the disciples are confused. 

Will he be back? Again?  And if so, when?  And what if he doesn’t come back at all? 
They sit together in the house and they worry and they weep and they wonder.  There is a gap.  A big gaping, Jesus shaped hole in their lives – once again – and they don’t know how to fill it or what to fill it with. 

When someone leaves us – for whatever reason or for however long – it is usually a difficult, painful or disorientating thing.  We too worry and weep and wonder. 
But what if all that worrying and weeping and wondering are the essential labour pains that must be endured before new life is brought forth? 

Jesus certainly seems to imply as much in his gospel. He says, ‘It is to your advantage that I go away.’ It is to your advantage that I go away and for your hearts to fill with sorrow.  Because if I do not leave you, the Holy Spirit will not come. 

Jesus comes and plugs the gap for a while. 

He makes tangible the whole mystery of God, for a while. 

Like the disciples with Jesus, we sometimes get to see glimpses of the incarnate God, of Christ within us, in one another.
But these are just glimpses. They are whispers of love, affirmation and assurance of a connectedness with a God who loves us and wants us to be the hands and feet and faces and voices of Christ in the world today. 

Our loving human relationships then are whispers of love. Food for the journey. Strength for the soul.  They are glimpses of the new creation, but they, in and of themselves, are not the new creation. We cannot help to bring about the new creation by clinging on, by a massive act of will, to one another.  After all, we simply don’t know how long we will have each other. People will leave. Human beings will leave, just as God incarnate left. 

But the Holy Spirit won’t. 

The eternal and everlasting Holy Spirit, that hovered over the surface of the deep; the Holy Spirit, that forms us from dust and puts our very breath into our nostrils; the Holy Spirit, that swept through the house on Pentecost and poured our Her power on the disciples is with us now and always will be.  

She has brought us here. She has anointed us. She is pouring out the hope and will of God like rose petals on our heads and in the spaces between us. And she will never leave us. 
She will never leave us. And she will never leave us alone.

So what happens then when people do leave?  They leave gaps, yes.  But the gap that they leave is also just space.  If we hear what Jesus said again – ‘It is to your advantage that I go away’ – can we possibly get our heads around the possibility that the painful gaps, are just space; space that can be filled with the Holy Spirit – the giver of life; and that the world, our communities, our churches, our whole selves and the entirety of God’s created space will be powerfully transformed into something we cannot yet imagine? 
This must surely be our hope?  

St Paul says, ‘For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.’ 
Where are our painful or difficult or disorientating gaps? Where are our Holy Spirit spaces? 

Come, Holy Spirit, Come. 

Bring the new creation. 

Bring it here. Bring it now. 

We are waiting.