“Don’t just do something, sit there”
A Chinese parable tells of an old man who lived with his son in an abandoned fort. One night the old man’s horse, the only one he had, wandered away. His neighbours all came to say how sorry they were about his misfortune. He replied, “How do you know this is ill fortune?” A week later the horse came home, bringing with him a herd of wild horses. The neighbours came again, helped him capture the wild horses, and congratulated him on his good fortune. As the days went on, the man’s son began to ride the horses. One day he was thrown and ended up with a crippled leg. The neighbours appeared again to tell him how sorry they were about his bad luck, but the old man asked, “How do you know it is bad luck?” In a few days along came a Chinese warlord who conscripted all able-bodied men for his private war. But the old man’s son, because of his injury, missed the draft, and once more came the neighbours to rejoice with him in his good fortune.
That saying, “don’t just sit there, do something”. We get up in the morning, make the kid’s breakfast, have a coffee, get dressed, drive to work, wave to the school crossing guy, turn onto to Fitzroy street without properly stopping at the stop sign etc., etc., etc. and another day is done.
I once read an article that changed my outlook on many things within our day to day stuff. It was written by a very busy person who said “that he came to love it when the doctor was late for his appointments, because he has come to enjoy that time for rest and thinking.”
Sometimes we need to take a step back and “not just do something, but to sit there” and for a moment ponder the amazing things taking place that have become hidden behind the monotony of life. If we look and listen, we see amongst it, there is much, much more going on. Where each moment can offer the splendour of life.
As Christians, we believe in the God of the “much more”. When Jesus made clear to his followers that he would be returning to his Father and that they, in turn, would be persecuted, they were plunged into grief. So he went onto say more about the Holy Spirit whom he would send as their Counsellor and Advocate. Jesus said: “I have much more to tell you, but now it would be too much for you to bear. But when the Spirit of truth comes, he will lead you into all the truth”.
Jesus early followers, like us can find things puzzling and hard to bear. The pain and the hurts of life, and the treeless never ending roads or seemingly dead ends of our lives. Yet amongst it all, the Holy Spirit is God active. He is God in and with us and continues to illuminate the work and truth of the Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.
The truth of our Saviour that brings light to dark places and dark lives. The truth that puts us at ease with the mysteries of life. To help us live amongst life’s unexplained anguish’s and ecstasies, our lives highs and lows.
The Holy Spirit brings us divine insight into the truth. The truth of Christ. How he sees and understands our trials and pleasures, our plans and our problems. And we come to see through it all that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Through the Holy Spirit we see that God is real for us. See that he is nearer to us than breathing and closer than hands and feet.
Christ is life and the Holy Spirit brings us his life. Brings us the truth because Jesus said the Holy Spirit “will not speak on his own, but will speak of what he hears and will tell you of things to come”.
“Things to come” are possibilities for the future. They are expectations yet to be fulfilled; they are hopes yet to be realised. “Things to come” include what is coming to the world and who is coming to the world. On one hand they refer to things such as the end of the world and the final return of Jesus Christ and the arrival of the new heavens and earth. They include the resurrection, the judgment and eternal life. They point to the victory of Christ the lamb upon his throne. They inspire the vision of multitudes without number singing, Worthy is the lamb that was slain to receive power, and wisdom, and strength, and honour and glory and blessing.
On the other hand, “things to come” refers to the possibilities open to us and to humankind because of God. That no matter what our circumstances the Holy Spirit enlivens us with the certainty of Christ being with us and his beckoning words that point us toward heaven and his beckoning words that teach us and support us in living in the here and now.
The Holy Spirit brings us the truth of our God active today and the God of all our tomorrows. The truth of our Saviour Jesus Christ standing with us. We see Christ open the door for us that no person can shut and we see him walking through it with us.
And when, at times, life seems meaningless or empty and the future closed, the Holy Spirit asks us to look to Christ and see what he has given us. The gift of eternal life in faith in him alone, which in him alone brings the gift of all our todays.
One very cold winter’s night a young boy and his father were walking along a dark path to a neighbouring farmhouse. The boy was afraid even though his father had a lantern. He saw that the light of the lantern reached only a short distance. But his father reassured him that if they kept on walking, the light would keep on shining to the end of the road. So it is with the Word of God as revealed to us in the sacred Scriptures by the Holy Spirit. If we keep on walking in the light of his truth we will be sustained because it is His promises that take away our guilt, our fears and sadness. And though we cannot see the ascended Jesus with our physical eyes, he has not left us alone. He gives us his Spirit, who comes to us in Word and Sacrament, assuring us of God’s love, forgiveness and presence in your lives. You never walk alone and that is what brings Joy and sure hope, because he is Joy and sure hope. So tomorrow, when I’m about to turn onto Fitzroy street with my good friend Jesus next to me, I might actually properly stop at the stop sign and let him show me the beauty that he has placed before me. Amen.