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December 11, 2023, Seventh day of Advent

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. John 14: 15

Randy Pausch gave a lecture in September 2007 entitled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”.  The presentation was recorded and posted it on YouTube, I think. It went viral almost immediately. Why? Because the lecture was Pausch’s “last lecture” as a professor at Carnegie Mellon University where he taught computer science. He gave lecture shortly after he learnedhe was dying of cancer with only a few months to live. His lecture was presented to a group of about 400 people, many of whom were students in his computer science department. Pausch encouraged his students to fulfill their calling to make the world a better place through their field of study.  He gave advice on living a life worthy of your dreams. It was turned into a book that fills out those thoughts and is well worth the read.

This is the kind of thing we hear from Jesus in the Gospel of John. Today’s text is in the middle of Jesus’ Farewell Discourse in John’s Gospel. Jesus is preparing his disciples for life without him. Taken at first glance, Jesus’ words here might sound like a manipulation. “If you don’t do these things, you must not love me.” But that is not what Jesus is saying. Jesus is basically saying that if the disciples have learned anything from Jesus, they should carry on the lessons learned. That is how he wants to be loved. Live the way you were taught to live. Do the things you were taught to do. Live like the one who is now gone meant something to you. That is how you live once your teacher, mentor or Messiah has gone. It is intended to inspire, encourage and empower. But the passage goes on.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 

Jesus is saying that if his disciples live the way they were taught to live it will be like he was still with them, maybe in a different sort of way. And the new way will still be inspiring, encouraging and empowering to live the Jesus way.

This is the coming of the Holy Spirit, something that we can also celebrate during Advent. The incarnation has not ended.

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