Preaching to the Choir

These are some sermons, but mostly lectionary discussions. It also has prayers for some Sundays.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Parakeet? no a Paraclete


Okay, many of you are wondering just what is a Paraclete and why would I want to write anything about it? John Dear in his little Gospel writes in our lectionary passage for this Sunday; John 14:15-21, that 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. The Greek here is παράκλητος or transliterated to paraklētos and pronounced then as pä-rä'-klā-tos.
It is often used in the Bible as follows:

1) summoned, called to one's side, esp. called to one's aid

a) one who pleads another's cause before a judge, a pleader, counsel for defense, legal assistant, an advocate

b) one who pleads another's cause with one, an intercessor

1) of Christ in his exaltation at God's right hand, pleading with God the Father for the pardon of our sins

c) in the widest sense, a helper, succourer, aider, assistant

1) of the Holy Spirit destined to take the place of Christ with the apostles (after his ascension to the Father), to lead them to a deeper knowledge of the gospel truth, and give them divine strength needed to enable them to undergo trials and persecutions on behalf of the divine kingdom.

D. Moody Smith in his commentary on John notes that parakletos, the Greek word commonly translated as Advocate (the New Revised Standard Version offers “Helper” as an alternative), “means literally one called to the side of, an advocate or an attorney.” As Smith suggests, however, the context of this passage indicates that this parakletos—often called the Paraclete in English—”does not function so much to advocate the disciples’ cause before God as to mediate the presence of Jesus to the disciples.”

The word Paraclete has been translated as Comforter, Helper, Counselor, and Advocate. No single translation captures all the aspects of the Christian meaning of the word and so we will use the transliterated Greek form, paraclete. The word paraclete in Greek is composed of two roots that would mean "one called to your side." It was used to describe a person who stood up with another who was on trial or under pressure. It was not a lawyer in the sense that we now think of lawyers or advocates; the paraclete didn't speak to the judge, s/he spoke with the person on trial encouraging and helping them through it.
Roger Hahn
This word occurs five times in the NT. It is used in 1J 2:1 to refer to Jesus; and four times in John's Farewell Discourse (14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7).In our text (and in 15:26, see also 16:13), the Paraclete is called "The Spirit of truth."

Biblical names were not just a way to address someone; they pointed towards a person’s character, so Jesus is telling us not just the name but also the character of the Holy Spirit.

Another word that has been used for the Holy Spirit is Parakaleo [NT3870], which literally translates into “to call near and comfort.” Kaleo [NT2564] means to “bring forth” or “bring near.” Para [NT3844] means to “call out” or to “cry out for a friend.”

The Holy Spirit hears us when we cry out and calls in the cavalry in our most dire times. When you are weary and alone cry out and call him in.

-The Paraclete is not a little yellow bird. Paracletes are not those things on the bottom of football and baseball shoes.

-(true but funny) Celtic Christians chose the wild goose as a symbol representing the Holy Spirit. A wild goose is one noisy, bothersome bird. I like this image of the Holy Spirit as a wild goose because it jars us out of our complacency.


So who is this paraclete to you? Have you met the Paraclete? When has the Paraclete been there for you? When have you experienced the paraclete?

What would our churches look like if the paraclete was alive and well in them and through them? What would our families look like? What about the world?



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