“I will not leave you orphaned…” Jesus says this to his disciples in our gospel reading. While an image of children first comes to mind when we hear the word “orphan,” any of us can be orphaned at any age. In fact, on any given day, a lot of us are orphaned, or at least, can feel orphaned, if only in spirit. But, if we open our eyes, we’d find orphans of some kind every day, people whose primary fear is being alone. We’d see people who believe themselves to be unloved and unlovable, and thus will always be alone; isolated from the world because they’ve been abandoned, because the world tells them that they aren’t worthy of love. Here in today’s reading’s, we hear words that offer hope, comfort, and courage in the face of the fear and anxiety, isolation and abandonment, loss, loneliness, and grief that we all face, that help us to live faithfully under ANY set of circumstances, in the sure and certain knowledge that we are loved—no matter what. Words that offer a reminder of the abiding presence and unceasing love of God, a reminder that we are never alone. Let there be no doubt that God, both mother and father, is with us. We are not alone and never will be. We have not been abandoned, and never will be. No matter what. The artwork to the right is an Orthodox icon, artist unknown
1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and be their God; 4 he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” 5 And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him because he abides with you, and he will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me, and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” 25 “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.