“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.
“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here." John 14:15-31
When I was a child I remember playing at being an orphan. Me and my friends would pretend we were alone in the world and act out adventures within our safe little back yards. Maybe our imaginations were captured by Peter Pan or some other story. Maybe all safe children play at being the other while orphaned children pretend at having a family. I never had to deal with being truly orphaned so I cannot even honestly imagine the experience. But I have experienced the pain of distance and dislocation from family, and know how it is to ache for the arms of those I love.
Jesus was preparing his disciples for his departure. They probably didn't pay much attention to his words at the time. These words probably came back to them as they huddled together after his crucifixion. They were so accustomed to his presence that they thought they were safe and possibly indestructible. After all that had happened they were wracked with fear and fully aware of their humanity. They were bereft. And it was to these bereft and terrified friends that these words came back to their full meaning. They were not orphaned nor left alone. They were provided for despite how the circumstances might have looked. God was prepared for all the events, even when they were not. And God is still caring for us despite how little we pay attention and how fearful and confused we might be. We are never alone or orphaned - we are beloved children of a truly loving and watchful God.
Today I ask God to help me trust completely. In the midst of trying days it is easy to become isolated and alone. May we all remember that we are beloved children of a loving Creator parent who is providing for us when we pay attention and when we don't. God is active in our anxiety and confusion as well as on our faithful and committed days. God loves us more than any human parent can, and gives us the strength to love beyond our own ability today.