My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Begin side note: Did you know that the father of ‘shock rock,” Alice Cooper, is actually a pastor’s kid and a devout Christian? End side note.
Can you feel it? There is a palpable hum in the air. And, the closer you get to a school, the louder and more reverberating it becomes. The kids know that the end of school is nearly upon them. They can smell the freedom. They can feel the liberation. Alice Cooper’s classic rock anthem, “School’s Out for Summer,” is coming to fruition once again!
And, if you ask any teachers or staff right now, they’ll tell you that the hum comes with consequences. The student population gets a bit wilder the closer they come to the end of school. The freedom of summer starts to bleed over into the school environment. Rules and authority don’t hold the same weight that they may have a couple of months ago.
Parents know these energized children are coming their way soon. They are rushing to put together some structure for the summer and minimize the impact of these freshly-freed little beings. Got to channel the energy before it overwhelms you!
But, many parents are also doing something else: they are looking forward to the additional time they will have with their kids. I know that it doesn’t get any easier every year sending my kids off to school. I don’t relish the separation that it brings and really anticipate the time we get together in the summers.
Separation is hard, whether it is temporary or permanent. Thankfully, as parents, we get to have that yearly cycle that draws us back together with our kids. But, there comes a year, where summers won’t bring them back to us and we will have to learn new ways of remaining connected to them. We have to learn new skills and avenues of communication.
In the Gospel for this Sunday (John 14.23-29), we find Jesus in a similar place. Their ‘summer’ together is coming to an end. Jesus’ time with them is almost up. And, he knows that there is going to be a real separation. The disciples, the emerging church, are going to be ‘schooled’ in the way of the world without him. And, as we know, it’s going to be tough.
But, God doesn’t leave the disciples and us without skills and avenues of connection. The Spirit has come to live among us and in us. Each of us are given new gifts and learn new ways of connecting with God and one another. And, as if that wasn’t enough, Jesus passes onto us God’s peace. A peace that the world cannot give or take away. A peace that unites us through all things.
At times, God may seem distant to us. We can feel like the world is teaching us some hard lessons about isolation and separation. But, remember, in the midst of it all, we have a God who knows our loneliness. We have a God who understands what it means to be removed from the ones we love. And, God gives us gifts and skills and avenues to overcome those things.