Easter 6, yr A, 2023 It looks like this Sunday is last week part II.  We have a continuation of last week’s reading of John’s gospel, where we focused on the I AM.  God’s eternal abiding presence, the many ways that God has tried to explain how God is with us. Today in the gospel Jesus is focused on saying goodbye, trying to prepare the disciples for what is to come.  The heart break, the challenges and confusion that comes with Jesus’ crucifixion. I cannot imagine how the disciples felt trying to understand what Jesus was talking about in his farewell discourse, not knowing, not comprehending what was to come. Not having the advantage that we have.  Not knowing that it will all turn out alright.  It would have been so confusing hearing Jesus’ ‘final discourse’, all his talk of death and partings; never imagining that he would truly be killed.  All the time thinking Jesus was a warrior Messiah.  Then when the worse happened, and Good Friday dashed all hopes…they would remember…the disciples would gather and talk and wonder what Jesus had really be telling them.  How he knew.  What to do next.  How to survive; and in all the memories there is one statement that I know would stand out for me. “ I will not leave your orphaned.”   Such a powerful statement, and with much more depth of meaning then we might understand.  Politically and culturally speaking in Jesus’ time to be an orphan was an exceptional kind of tragedy.  To be an orphan meant you were without a father, the protector, provider and the one who provided name and identity to you.  An orphan child was especially vulnerable, as children were considered property and non-persons under the law.  So, without a father, the legal citizen, orphans were one of the most bereft, abused, and vulnerable sections of society.  Enough so that orphans, were one of the few groups that merited government assistance, and religious law including Jewish law, required special care be taken for orphans.  Encouraging and in some cases requiring them to be adopted by relatives to ensure that the deceased father’s bloodline and name not be lost. Jesus had spent a vast deal of time explaining in John’s gospel that he and the Father were one, and that God was with the people of God always, not only as a diety, but as Abba, father.  That God was their protector, their identity, their shepherd and in fact the way, the truth and the life. So, when Good Friday came, imagine how the disciples and followers would react when Jesus was brutally crucified?  Orphaned may be a good word for that traumatic reaction, so being aware of all things in John’s gospel; Christ provides for them a memory, a teaching to give comfort. ‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. You are not alone.  That is how we think of these gospel expressions, but knowing what we do about being orphaned in Jesus’ time, we know Jesus means so much more. ‘I will not leave you orphaned’.  I will not leave you with identity, without protection, without means to live. “In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live.”  Words spoken as much for us as for the disciples.  I live, so you will live.  I am in my father and you in me and I in you.  We are one, we are together.  You are not abandoned, regardless of how it feels in any given moment.  Not only will I be with you, says Jesus, but I will also send to you the Advocate, to be with you forever.  To speak up for you, provide council to you, advise and protect you and help you along the right path.  This is the Holy Spirit and the Spirit will abide with you. Always. ‘I will not leave you orphaned’           I can only imagine how comforting the disciple found these words to be, but I know that i find these to be such words of comfort.  There are many times when, despite my amazing family, supportive church community, my expensive and lengthy education and diverse life experiences…I simply don’t know what to do.  I feel bereft.  Alone.  Paralyzed by decisions I don’t feel qualified or wise enough to make. This is an experience shared by many of us.   Whether it is questions around jobs, or school choices.  Medical or family decisions.  Or simply sometimes, as we live in a pandemic shaped world…whether it is even safe to walk out the door.     There are days when we look around and feel abandoned.  As if there is no one there to support or uphold us, to guide and protect us.  And this can have little to do with who is actually there or how many friends we have.  After all, one can FEEL alone, experience abandonment, even in a crowded room, surrounded by family. At times like that I remember that Christ is here and beyond that the advocate is here.  I am not left orphaned.  Without identity, without protection, without love. The Spirit abides with us. I AM abides with us.  In God’s house there are many rooms Christ said, because we are all one family abiding together. Jesus knew that for the disciples, Good Friday would be earthshattering, but worse still Saturday…that bleak dark Saturday, they would feel abandoned, orphaned, alone. Out of the love that Jesus has for us he made sure that on those dark Saturdays we would know that we are not abandoned.  We are not orphaned.  We are a part of a great family, and that we have an advocate…a supporter.  One who is there on our behalf always, so that in the darkness we have a companion to guide us and point us to the Light that always shines in darkness. We are so blessed.  God knows us, God in Jesus lived our life…it’s ups and downs, it’s joys and betrayal, it’s life and it’s death.  Jesus experienced doubt, fear, betrayal, indecision, and all that the human experience is capable of throwing at us. Remember on the cross “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?!”  God knows.       So, God, So Christ, reassures us that he will provide for those times; ‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. We are not orphaned, we have a Father, and that Father has provided for us temporally and eternally.  So that we will have life and life abundant, and when that life provide misery and doubt equally abundant we are not left alone.  We are surrounded by love, support, guidance and advocacy.  ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. I will not leave you orphaned.’ These words feel like an embrace to me.  They bring comfort, reassurance and a reminder of the blessings that I always have and too often forget.  In dark Saturdays, it is easy to feel orphaned, like those in Jesus’ time, to feel like a non-person without identity or acknowledged existence, adrift and exposed.  But Christ goes out of his way over and over again, to be with us and to abide with us, and we are told in so many ways that in our deepest, darkest Saturdays there will always be resurrection. Life. Love.  That God is I AM. That Jesus knows us intimately and personally.  That the Holy Spirit is with us as advocate and guide. We are never alone.  Never orphaned. Quite the opposite, we are in fact, children of God, joint heirs with Christ and God abides in us, and we in God. One body, one family, in Christ, always. AMEN.