The Inner Witness

Easter 2023: 6th Week

Gospel Reading: John 14:15-21  (World English Bible)

15 If you love me, keep my commandments. 16 I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, [a] that he may be with you forever: 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world can’t receive; for it doesn’t see him and doesn’t know him. You know him, for he lives with you, and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more; but you will see me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 One who has my commandments and keeps them, that person is one who loves me. One who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him, and will reveal myself to him.”

Reflection: The Inner Witness by David Morrison

One of the main themes of living the Easter experience, is a major transition from knowing God with a certain understanding to a deeper one. The transition itself can often leave one feeling confused and frightened as your lived worldview and interpretations of God  have been reduced to vapor. Throughout the resurrection narratives in the four gospels, the disciples are described as terrified and engulfed with grief. The empty tomb dumbfounds them. He tells Mary she can’t cling to him anymore. The disciples on the road to Emmaus are overcome with disappointment and heartache. They find themselves huddled in a room with the door locked, etc. It’s in the midst of all of this confusion that Jesus tells them he’s going away and their relationship with him is about to change from one of a second and third person perspective to a first-person one. They will no longer be able to see the face of Jesus of Nazareth, but will be empowered to see this face in everyone they meet. He will no longer be right in front of them with an audible voice and touchable feet, but will be living in and through them. He describes this move from objective devotion to interior intimacy as the “Holy Spirit,” or “Paraclete,” who will be a continuing, ever-changing experience of the presence of God. While we today are centuries removed from the first followers’ circumstances, the process and context of this relationship is no different. Our failures, chaotic situations, and inner turmoil are all the very things that fuel the lived experience of the Holy Spirit within our lives. The Spirit is not only the initiator of love and interconnectedness in our experience,  but is also the process itself. James Finley often describes it this way in his talks:

“The process of establishing ourselves in a habitual state of compassionate love takes place in the context of countless failures to be compassionate.  But this proves to be no hindrance as long as we commit ourselves to being compassionate toward ourselves in our failings to be compassionate.  Even our failures to be compassionate prove to be but new opportunities . . .  This process of yielding to compassionate love unfolds and deepens over a lifetime of learning that when all is said and done, love is the playing field where we most truly meet ourselves and others as we really are: precious in our collective frailty.”

Our egos often lead us to believe that the experience of the Holy Spirit will lead us to be “successful,” upwardly mobile people. It’s a personal “Easter experience” when these kinds of expectations are left on the scrap pile of our lives. It’s the same beginning point on which the first followers found themselves. Our favored and precious way that we’ve come to experience the love of God must give way to a new one. The Spirit becomes an ever deepening “inner witness” of this love that dispossesses us even as it charges our lives. We often become so fixed to our ideas of God (justifying with Scripture verses or church dogmas) that we are unable to determine the difference between our concepts of God and the immediate presence of God. The inner witness of the Holy Spirit helps us to be kind to ourselves and loosens our grip on all those previous identities.  Learning to trust and act out of this inner witness is a messy process, but in the midst of it, we get to glimpse how the Spirit creates Beloved Community out of broken people like us.

The Face of Love by David Morrison

Open my eyes with the light
of your Son’s resurrection:
That I may see your face of love,
your eyes of flame
in everyone I see.
Let me find your face
in the poor, the sick:
in all that I am afraid of most;
and in all that I am.
Let me see your face of love
in all that’s ugly and disfigured in this world;
and in so gazing on your face,
I will act for the healing of the world.
And in responding to your new command,
I will see your face renewed throughout this aging world.

The Inner Witness (David Morrison, created with dream ai).


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About David Morrison

I've lived here at the community with Marsha, my wife, since its founding in 2003. I serve in various ways from pastoral care to landscape maintenance; from coffee brewing to bar keeping.

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