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John 16:12-15

Presence is everything. When my daughters were young, we loved to go on walks. We had a large grassy area behind our townhome, and I’d often take my girls on a walk along the grass behind the homes on our block. In the summer, we’d often take walks after dark when it was cooler. There were lights near the street, but the farther we moved along the grass, the darker it would become.

My daughters, being independent as they were, never wanted to hold my hand. I’d offer, and they would refuse, declaring their independence even at the young age of three. But I knew what was coming, so I always left my hands dangling at my side. Something would happen as we wandered deeper into the darkness. I’d feel their little hands gently slip into mine. The darker it became, the tighter their grasp would get. If it was pitch black, there would even be the rare moment they’d ask me to pick them up and carry them.

I lived for those moments. The times when their fear would melt away as they buried their heads on my shoulder. I’d ask them if they were afraid, and they’d always answer no, but I knew better. I’ll never forget the time I asked Kristin if she was afraid, and she answered: “Not as long as I can hold your hand.”

Presence is everything. This week is Trinity Sunday, the week we attempt to move beyond the “activity” of the Spirit and Pentecost, to explaining the Spirit and the nature of the Triune God. How do you explain existence? How do you explain the claim we make of a God expressed in three forms?

As you are most likely aware, explaining the Trinity and the problems that go along with that, have been around as long as the church. Some scholars believe the way this discussion was resolved is still accounting for schisms and division in the church, one saying it is responsible for opening up the East to Islam. Not that where the church landed was wrong, but the way the church arrived could have been handled with more grace. That being said, this week we are given the opportunity to introduce our congregations to a Triune God, desiring Trinitarian presence that goes beyond the closing of a prayer or blessing.

Concerning our text for the week, which by the way, is the gospel text for year B in the Lectionary, we can’t claim the activity of the Spirit began at Pentecost, or that Jesus is introducing the third person of the trinity for the first time in John chapters 14-16, but there is something different taking place in this dialogue and teaching that is reshaping. I think it’s because presence is everything.

Jesus is close to wrapping up his last night with his disciples before his death, what is commonly called, his final discourse. It is written with much care and reflection. John’s gospel was the last of the four, and he had a lot of time while sitting on an island to not only read and reflect on the other stories of Jesus, but also how he wanted to tell his Jesus narrative. It’s because of the way John goes about it that we have some of the richest, disturbing, yet comforting texts. From the I am statements; Jesus mid-night encounter with Nicodemus; his mid-day encounter with a Samaritan woman; the difficult teaching in the 6th chapter; the narrative of Lazarus’ resurrection; his preparation for his death by Mary; the metaphor-rich chapters we are currently reading; leading to the reinstatement of Thomas and Peter, John tells a narrative unlike any other.