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JN 15: 26-27 & 16: 4b-15(16)
Just one more Sunday on JN, then we can get back to MK!

Like a lot of people, I often think of the Spirit as my Advocate (I'll stick to that word) made available to me by God (when I think I need one, that is!) But Jesus here emphasises that the Spirit is his Advocate! Not that he rules out the Spirit as my Advocate, but Holy Spirit is first & foremost Jesus' Advocate. If the difference has been obvious to you forever, then I've been thick! The difference is not just a subtle one. We need to think it through.

How does Jesus say things to us today? Not just via Bible or Pulpit, thank God! I'm most conscious of God speaking to me when I'm actually taking seriously the business of getting close to him. It's not a matter of words at all, but being speechless before God. And listening. Daring to aim at coming by grace as close to God as Jesus is by nature. My experience out there in my world is that wordiness is no more next to godliness than cleanliness. (Who first made that silly & maybe class-centred connect ion?) We ought to be a lot more worried about wordiness than either cleanliness or worldliness.

Whatever sense I've been able to make of the bit about '...sin, righteousness, & judgment' has varied a bit over the years. Nor do I seem to have I made much headway in opening it up for others, as preachers are meant to do. The heart of it is apparently aimed at helping us see that separation from God (sin) does terrible things to the way we live as distinct from (= separated!) the way God wants us to live. Live separate from God & we bring a judgment on ourselves, let alone suffer any judgment God might make about us & upon us. Before moving on I need to say that whatever the bit about the 'ruler of this world being condemned' means, it leaves a lot of people puzzled & dissatisfied that the condemnation doesn't seem to translate into decisive action against evil.

There are still many things we, today's generations of the 'Friends of Jesus' gang can't bear. From a number of points of view. Which are the ones most relevant to our own milieu? Picking & choosing is a trick at least as old as the Garden of Eden. Which of its many forms are we playing today?

That the Advocate is, a) Jesus' Advocate, &, b) the Spirit of Truth offers us a deeper understanding of the Spirit's role in individual lives & the churches than we often settle for. Pentecost (& let's not forget the umpteen pre- & post- Pentecost outpourings of the Spirit) is for the benefit, primarily, of Jesus, in that the Advocate bears & extends witness to Who Jesus is & What Jesus stands for. Some of the claims of those who 'over-emphasise' the Spirit clearly run contrary to that witness. Whatever benefits the Spirit confers on us are secondary. That is a slant we do well to bring back into focus.

After his Great Cosmic Disappearing Act, we see Jesus present among us again in each other by his Spirit. Still his Advocate. When 'the Spirit' leads us to adopt attitudes, do things, contrary to the best evidence we have of Jesus' own practice, we can be sure it's not 'the Spirit of Truth' but some usurper. As often as not, you or me! very small s spirits.