Last week I attended the funeral for the family of my aunt Mardene. Her son, who is a pastor, said that a colleague had told him that he was now an orphan. He indicated that, in a way, that was true. His mother and father's souls are in heaven with the Lord. But he was quick to point out how this was not true as a Christian. We are never orphans in Christ.
Baptized Christians are those who have been adopted into the family of God. God grabs ahold of a sinful heart and changes it to a believing heart. In so doing, God has adopted the child into His holy family. As we read in 1 John 3:1 "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! And we hear the faithful promise of God that, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him." (John 14:23) What a blessing to be loved as a Child of God, who is the Creator God and Father.
One of our greatest fears is to be abandoned by those we love, to be orphaned, widowed, left alone. We fear the loss of a parent, a friend, a spouse. Nothing hurts like being left behind. Jesus was speaking to His disciples and preparing them for His departure, His exodusmeaning His death, resurrection, and ascension. Soon they would no longer have Him as they did now. They would no longer see Him, hear His voice, touch Him, walk with Him, and share a meal with Him. But, Jesus would not abandon them.
He was going to prepare a place for them, a true and eternal home. He was going take them to be with Him by being lifted up on a cross, buried in a tomb, raised from the dead, and being glorified at the right hand of His Father. He was going to prepare a true home for our humanity in glory. And yet in His going He wasn't leaving them, but coming to them in a more profound way. He would send another Comforter, the Holy Spirit. And in sending His Spirit, He would be with them more intimately, more profoundly, more fully than even His being with them at a table sharing a meal.
Jesus gives them His words, and with His words, His Baptism, His Body and Blood, His forgiveness, life, and salvation. And peace. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you." Clinging to His word by faith, you have all that Jesus is for you, and all that Jesus won for you. Clinging to His word, you are loved by His Father and are given to call Him your Father, too. Clinging to His word, you have His promised Holy Spirit, given you in your Baptism. Clinging to His word, you have a peace that the world does not givea peace that only comes through dying and rising with Jesus.
Left behind? Never! An orphan? No! You have been taken along for the ride in your Baptism.You have been taken from death and into life and glory in Jesus Christ your Savior. Hanging on to His Word and promises, you are not an orphan, but you are right at home with the Father.
The Pentecost Collect (Prayer of the Day for Pentecost) has us praying with confidence: "Heavenly Father, in love and mercy You put our sins on Your only-begotten Son, that we might be set free from the power of sin and death. Pour out Your Holy Spirit on us, we pray, that our faith may be strong and our witness to Your love may be bold; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives with You and the same Spirit, one God, now and forever."