May 21, 2017: Never Alone – Never Abandoned

Posted on : May 18th, 2017 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Dim*
by Jim Daniels

Today my son realized someone’s smarter
than him. Not me or his mom —
he still thinks we know everything —
one of the other kids, Nathan. Making fun
of him at the computer terminal
for screwing up at the math game.
Other kids laughing at him. Second grade.
I’m never gonna be as smart as him, he says.
I’m never gonna be as smart
as half my students if we’re talking
IQs. He doesn’t want me to explain.
He wants me to acknowledge
that he’s dumb. He’s lying in bed
and taking his glasses off and on,
trying to get them perfectly clean
for the morning. I’m looking around
his dark room for a joke or some
decent words to lay on him. His eyes
are glassy with almost-tears. Second grade.
The world wants to call on him.
I take his hand in mine.

There are times in our lives when we just need someone to take our hand and hold it.  We don’t need someone who can say the right words.  We don’t need someone to solve our problem.  We don’t need cheery words to cover up our pain.  We just need to be held.  To know someone is present with us and will be there with us for as long as we need them. That is what this Sunday’s story of faith is about.

This passage from the Gospel of John is often translated, “I will not leave you desolate; I am coming to you.”  The actual Greek word used in the New Testament was not desolate, but rather the word for orphan.  Orphans are children who have no parents.  Sometimes their parents died, sometimes their mothers died in childbirth, sometimes the children had disabilities or congenital birth defects and their parents would simply abandon the child along the road side.  Hopefully, someone would take these abandoned children to an orphanage, a group home for abandoned kids.  Because children were not able to contribute to the family economy, in the ancient world, they were considered worth less (as in our word, “worthless”).  Orphanages were notoriously awful places where children were often abused and exploited.  It was a place of last resort for those who were desolate:  alone or abandoned.

That’s the word Jesus uses when he says to us, “I will not leave you orphaned.  I will not leave you desolate.  I will not abandon you.  Even after my death, I will come to you.”

That’s great news for the parent of a math challenged second grader who thinks he’s dumb, as well as for grown-ups who think nobody cares about them.  When we need it most, this risen Christ, this Jesus, is there to take our hand and without saying a word, lets us know we are never alone – never abandoned.

Resurrection Blessings,

Dan

 
*”Dim,” by Jim Daniels, reprinted from Revolt of the Crash-Test Dummies, Eastern Washington University Press, 2007. His latest collection of poems, Rowing Inland, was published in 2017 by Wayne State University Press.

 

~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

John 14: 1-19

Jesus promises to never abandon us

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In God’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.”

Thomas said to him, “Jesus, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to our God except through me. If you know me, you will know God also. From now on you do know God and have seen God.”

Philip said to Jesus, “Show us God, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus replied to Philip, “Have I been with you all this time, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen God. How can you say, ‘Show us God’? Do you not believe that I am in God and God is in me?

The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but God who dwells in me does God’s works. Believe me that I am in God and God is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works of God that you have seen me do.

I will ask God, and God will give you the Holy Spirit, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees or knows the Spirit. But you know the Spirit because the Spirit abides with you and will be in you.

“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live.

(Based on the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible,

but edited and paraphrased for greater clarity by Dan.)

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