"They left without saying goodbye”.
Just reading that sentence you can likely hear the hurt in it. To say goodbye is hard, so sometimes people just avoid it. They leave without saying goodbye. And sometimes when things are hard we can go toward them.
In the video above you can listen to Warren Zevon’s goodbye song.
This was the final song Zevon wrote and recorded before dying of mesothelioma (a form of lung cancer) in September of 2003. After my mom died from lung cancer in 2008 a friend gave me a copy of the song. I listened to it over and over in my grief and sorrow.
Goodbye. So long. Farewell. This weekend in worship we hear a part of Jesus’ Farewell Discourse from John’s gospel. Jesus goes right toward that which is hard. He says goodbye and prepares his followers for when he will no longer be with them.
Jesus won’t be with them in the way they have known him; as a companion walking alongside them, healing, preaching and teaching in the synagogue, sharing meals with them. Goodbye and you will not be left alone. Goodbye and the Advocate, a Friend, will be sent to you by the Father and will be with you- always.
Those who love me will keep my word- John 14:23
As Jesus says his long goodbye, preparing those who love him for when he will no longer be with them, he gives them instructions. Keep my word. Remember what I have told you and taught you. Remember how I shared the Father’s love for you and for the world. Keep it. Keep it in your heart. Guard it. Preserve it. Keep my word. And that can be hard to do. We can be unafraid to go toward that which is hard.
This “keeping of” Jesus’ word isn’t meant so that his followers would hoard it or hold it only for themselves. It is meant to keep them connected to Jesus and gives them a word to share with the world. We get to talk about hard things and love people who may seem hard to love. We get to live in peace in a world filled with turmoil.
Peace. Jesus speaks peace as he prepares his followers for when he will no longer be with them. Peace, not as the world would give them- this is a peace that surpasses human understanding. This peace is a gift of God’s grace given to us.
Jesus doesn’t leave without saying goodbye. And he shows us how to live, how to love and how to keep his word. And we don’t have to do it alone. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, a Friend is given to us to be with us now. Jesus makes promises that he keeps.
This weekend as we hear how we are called to keep Jesus’ word by living it out, as we share the peace, as we remind one another that love is stronger than fear- we trust that Jesus keeps his word and will walk alongside us as we keep it also.