Except that we are not alone! The Spirit—which Jesus will later define as his own Spirit—accompanies and empowers us to face a future that we may feel is uncertain but has been secured by the death and resurrection of Jesus. From this perspective, the anxiety that many of us feel—there is no roadmap!—can be transformed into excitement—there is no roadmap! Which means that we are free—we don’t have to do things the way they’ve always been done. We can experiment, risk, fail (you can’t experiment without failing), learn and grow in ways we’d never imagined. Because the Spirit of Christ will blow us in directions we hadn’t imagined.
The second element I want to lift up is the ultimate source of our confidence. For coming right after the world’s most famous Bible verse is this promise: “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world but in order that the world might be saved through him.” God intends good for us, both here in our life together and ultimately in our eternal life with God. For this reason, whatever setbacks or even failures we may experience are always temporary, because God has promised to redeem the world in and through Jesus. Which again lends us a measure of freedom. We are free to experiment and struggle and succeed and fail and live and love and die … all knowing that in Christ God has already worked to redeem the whole world. In other words, redemption is God’s responsibility, not ours. Our job is to strive to identify and share where we see hints of that redemption already.
Here’s the thing, Working Preacher: The challenges in front of us are great, no doubt about it. But so also are the opportunities. Whether we grow or shrink, flourish or struggle, we sometimes get preoccupied with the proximate story that, while important, is only part of the larger story God is telling and bringing to a good end.
So this week, remind your people that we are free. And remind them that we are aided by God’s powerful Spirit who will blow us places we’d never imagined. And remind them, finally, that God loves this whole world—including us and our little corners of it—extravagantly and so has promised that whatever may come, we all have God’s promise of redemption in and through Christ Jesus our Lord.
It’s a powerful message and promise, Working Preacher. One we need to hear, especially at this time in our history. And I am so grateful for your willingness not just to share it but to proclaim it with hope, courage and confidence. Thank you. Even more—and always—thank God for you!