50 Days to Believe No Other
John 14: 8 – 17, 25 - 27
Acts 10: 34 – 43; Luke 24:1 - 12
LOVE NEVER ENDING
Revelations 22: 12 – 14, 16 – 17; John 17: 20 - 26
50 Days to Believe No Other
John 14: 8 – 17, 25 - 27
Loving and Merciful Lord, burn your words and wishes into our everyday thoughts. Let us see your intentions and hear your words of wisdom and guidance so that we may fulfill the life you want us to lead today and everyday. Amen.
Did today’s first reading from Acts wear you out? There is a whole lot going on there with wind, fire, speaking in tongues, accusations of drunkenness, a strong rebuttal; an explanation of this happening in response to a prophet, we find many people filled with amazement and bewilderment, and all of this happening at nine o’clock in the morning. Talk about the army doing more before breakfast then most do all day! This is Pentecost. This is considered by many the birth of Christianity as it is known today. Yes, there is indeed a lot going on here. So, let us go through this in a manner which I hope enlightens you, energizes you, and in the end, envelopes you and your faith.
Let us begin with the word Pentecost itself. Pentecost was around before the day we heard about earlier in Acts. Pentecost is derived from the Greek word meaning “fifty”. Pentecost is one of three major Jewish feasts, this one is a festival celebrating the end of the grain harvest, celebrated fifty days after the Passover. That is how it was celebrated before Christ’s death. This Pentecost however, is believed to have also occurred fifty days after Jesus’ resurrection, thus it changes everything.
Pentecost is also God’s response to Jesus’ prayer we heard last Sunday. Let me remind you of it, as it is written in John: . I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. "Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them." This is Jesus praying for it in the Garden just before his arrest. At this time in the Christian timeline, we have God the Father, and Jesus Christ the Son. That’s it. Pentecost is when the third part of the Triune God, one God in three parts which is what we as Presbyterians all believe God to be, and today we get introduced to the Holy Spirit giving us the third part. As we heard and will hear again, God made sure we all got the message. God’s version of pomp and circumstance, wind, fire, talking in languages these individuals have never spoken in before. The Holy Spirit is introduced to us in a very big way. Realistically, would we expect anything else? The Holy Spirit is the answer to Jesus’ passionate desire for the future after his time on earth: "Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them." I know you, and they know that you have sent me, I have made you known to them and WILL CONTINUE to make you known… That is part of what the Holy Spirit does, reminds us that God is with us, by speaking through us and through others, so clearly that we can’t miss the message being sent.
Additionally, though the disciples had no clue what Jesus meant when he said it, Jesus told the disciples that this was going to occur. Let us listen again to today’s word from John: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. "All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” So, Jesus requests this through prayer and he announces to the disciples that it is coming. As has been already indicated, the Holy Spirit shows up in a big way. But, we’ll get back to that in a moment. While preparing for today’s service I flashed back to last week when I mentioned that the naysayers and the non-believers wonder why Jesus hasn’t returned when as we heard in Revelations last week the angels told John through dreams that Jesus said; "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. One could pose the questions today; why send the Holy Spirit? Why not just send Jesus back?
I have two thoughts regarding these two questions or thoughts if you will. First, if Jesus came back wouldn’t that change everything again? I suppose it would reinforce the resurrection story, but what other purpose would it serve? Jesus, in Jesus form is one being. Put Jesus in the world today, where would he start? If Jesus came into your living room tonight, how long would you want him to stay? Give that a second,… now, think about how many other people need Jesus to literally appear in their lives at the moment. How much time would each of them need? Would we gather everyone who says they really need Jesus and place them in MetLife Stadium up at the Meadowlands and then have Jesus appear there? Would we expect Jesus to do a mass healing right on the spot?
That is thought number one and now for thought number two; who waits for us in heaven? The Bible tells us that Jesus clearly stated that he went to go prepare a room for each of us. We are told Jesus sits at the right hand of God the Father, thus, can Jesus be here on earth also? Even Jesus knew that would not be possible, thus Jesus tells us the plan: And I will ask the Father,…Jesus already asked, in the Garden on the night of his arrest …and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. "All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” Even Jesus knows he can’t be in two places at the same time, but we needed more. What we see from this point on is the formation of a team, a team of Christians. The Holy Spirit lives with us, the Holy Spirit lives within us, the Holy Spirit is our Counselor and Guide. The Holy Spirit reminds us of everything Jesus taught, everything Jesus wanted us to do.
When you have those debates and you have one voice in one ear and one in the other. In cartoons one is depicted as the Devil the other is depicted as an Angel, but that voice isn’t just an angel, the good voice, the voice of reason, the voice of love, the voice of comfort, and the voice of pure goodness, THAT voice is that of the Holy Spirit finding a way to communicate to you!
Finding a way to communicate to you; that isn’t farfetched at all when we go back to today’s lesson from Acts: All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?
How is that for making sure everyone knows from the start that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are all-inclusive. What better way than to make sure the message wasn’t missed no matter what language was spoken? Yet, we see doubters already starting to form. It leaves me perplexed when we hear this part of today’s reading: “we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?" Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine. "
Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. ” In a very real way, Peter becomes the first Christian Minister right at this moment. He offers an explanation of a Godly act so those in attendance can comprehend what is actually going on.
Can you spot the difference yet? When we hear of God interacting with the human race in the Old Testament there is a separation. God tells us what He has prepared for us, God chooses his servants, God tells us how to behave, and so on and so forth. In the Old Testament, the relationship with God is very similar to Parent and infant child. The ground rules are being set, there is an authoritative, knowledgeable and mature half of the relationship, that is very much God, and then there is the half that is immature, trying to learn but making mistakes, trying to see what lines can be crossed and which ones can’t, and that was the human race. But, on Pentecost, that all changes, the human race goes from the infant child, young child teenager relationship with God, and now we have reached that stage of becoming an adult, a young adult, but there is less of here is how I want you to act or else and much more of you are my children and I love you, come to me when you need me, know that I am here even when you don’t need me.
Let me put some verses together for you and let’s see if we can tie up any leftover loose ends Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work..That was Jesus to Philip now Jesus to God. I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them. Finally, Jesus’ promise to all of us …If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. God is in Jesus, Jesus is in God, God is in us, we live with God. All done, through the Holy Spirit; That relationship with the Holy spirit allows us to perform as children of God, to be claimed by God, to hear and see God’s plans and desires for us. We hear God’s call through the Holy Spirit, and we allow the Holy Spirit to work through us. May the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of , now and forever. Amen.
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Acts 10: 34 – 43; Luke 24:1 - 12
Let us pray: Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable to you O Lord, our rock and redeemer. AMEN!
It took just three days. Three days to forget, or did the women and the disciples just simply think that when Jesus said he was going to rise again from the dead that this was going to be the one thing he couldn’t do. One has to wonder why they would have these thoughts, have these doubts. Exactly what would lead to such doubts, as the Bible details three different people Jesus raised from the dead, most infamously, Lazarus? Did these friends and followers of Jesus miss this? Only two weeks ago, we heard the story about all of them dining at Lazarus’ home, long after Jesus raised him from the dead. So, did all these people feel or think that Jesus could raise others from the dead, perform miracles of one kind or the other, but, bringing himself back to life was not even within Jesus’ abilities?
Today, two thousand years later, there are many who still feel that this is too much to ask of any being. Most of our friends and neighbors living around this church find it hard to swallow, and they are not alone, there are many out there whom don’t believe in God at all, so Jesus is just a myth to them, at least our Jewish brethren believe he existed and he was a great teacher, but when we get to the part about raising from the dead, well, not so much. Let’s face it, there is a large hole missing from the story, it’s like being the first one on the scene of a car accident, you see the damage, the skid marks, the injuries, an accident has definitely occurred the proof is staring you in the face, but, you didn’t see the accident happen. The proof of the event is right there in front of you, but you don’t know how it occurred.
Across the street from where I grew up lived a Doctor, he was very active with the Boy Scout troop I belonged to as his two sons belonged to the same troop. He was very science minded and one of those who feels science can answer all, and by using science one day he told us in detail how Christ was able to raise from the “dead”, and his theory was that Christ hadn’t really died, that he had simply passed out from dehydration. Now, listen, think about the time frame we are talking about here, did someone check his pulse, did someone take his blood pressure, well, come on, we know the answers to that, and in a passed out state, could Jesus’ breathing have been so shallow that no one could tell if he were breathing or not, well, yes, that IS possible. Quite frankly, I think it is kind of cool that science does feel there is a way for this to have happened it helps give the story credence, even to the non-believers. I’ll answer the question many of you now have in your minds, the answer is NO, that is NOT what I believe happened, and here’s why.
I think, the Doctor’s explanation is wonderful, I really do, and for those who find it hard to believe Jesus came back from the dead, his explanation would make the story plausible. But, here is what the Doctor didn’t and couldn’t answer going off this theory of his: how did a man, so dehydrated that he passes out, who had been nailed through both hands, through both feet, and then pierced with a sword, so I’m sure he bled a lot, have the strength three days later, with no food in his body, no water so he is even more dehydrated then on the day of the crucifixion itself, have the strength to get up in a completely dark tomb, find the boulder that has sealed that tomb, and have the strength to move it out of the way so that he could leave? That, my friends, science doesn’t have an answer for and so, that is where our faith begins, yet, we are still left with the question of why those who were there at that place at that time, couldn’t believe.
Before you think I’m being harsh on them, let me continue. I understand, because let’s face it, no one witnessed it: “On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.” Essentially, the women just became blind witnesses to the miracle. They are experiencing it, but they don’t know or believe what they are seeing. Why would they, how can a man who is dead, be in a position to bring himself back to life. It’s impossible, at that point and time it had never been done before, and oh by the way, it hasn’t been done since. Before you say, wait, people are brought back to life on a pretty regular basis these days, you are right, but not on their own. CPR and defibrillators as well many other medical advances bring people back to life all the time, but I want to be there the first time someone is able to perform CPR on themselves. That is what makes this story unique, one of a kind, and why those of us with faith, believe. Nothing else makes sense here.
“He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.' " Then they remembered his words. When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.” I mentioned Thursday, that Jesus had a lot of faith in the Apostles, he hoped some of which he had told them took, but at first glance we need to wonder just a bit. Jesus told them what was going to happen, and not, one, not two, but three different women are telling them what they found, and yet the message still isn’t gotten through.
Again, I know this sounds like a tough critique especially since I wasn’t there, but the truth is I get where they are coming from, but to understand, we need to fully look at where they are in their collective thoughts and emotional process right now. Nothing has made sense to them for three days. Even though Jesus tried in every way to prepare them for what was about to happen they just couldn’t grasp it, they are still blind to it. It was only a week ago that they were watching Jesus ride into Jerusalem in triumphant glory. They were dining with him four days ago, and since, he has been arrested, beaten, humiliated, scorned, tried, and killed. A lot has gone wrong in a very small amount of time, and let us not forget, the trigger to this whole series of events was one of their own, Judas, who not only betrayed Jesus, but let’s face it, he betrayed the other eleven also, as he left them out of the loop on what he was thinking and planning, and, he left them vulnerable as soon as Jesus took his last breath.
Now, fearing for their lives, confused as to how everything that was so right a week ago, went so wrong four days ago, and now, Jesus body is missing. The apostle’s don’t think for a minute that Jesus has risen from the dead, in their frail, over-stimulated state of near terror which they are all close to or have reached, one would assume paranoia has begun to set in some, they think the body of Christ has been stolen, nothing else is conceivable right now, not in their current state of mind. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened. Really, Jesus tried to prepare them for this, but they just didn’t want to believe it, and now that all of this has occurred this final verse says it all, Peter may have been the only one who made it to the tomb, but he isn’t the only one asking himself; ‘What happened?’
Today’s first reading today came from Acts, and we here from the same Peter later on in his life: You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached-- how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. "We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen--by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. An interesting recollection from Peter: “God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but witnesses God had already chosen…” The term; ‘hindsight is twenty-twenty’ is in full view right here. By the accounts read today, these ‘witnesses’ were blind during the event itself, yet see it very clearly later on. We know why, Jesus reveals himself to all, but doubts lingered for awhile and we will hear more about that next week, but for the moment, let’s get back to today, and more specifically, one more question which can be raised. Why was Jesus not seen by all people? For that matter, we know from the other Gospels regarding the day we call Easter, Mary speaks to Jesus, yet doesn’t recognize him at first. That seems odd, why when she sees him, she would not also recognize him. I think, it’s a timing issue. Jesus was born to a virgin woman, thus, technically Jesus is only half human, as for the other half….
We as Presbyterians believe in the Triune God; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The human body was crucified and died, so what is left? Though the Bible doesn’t answer this question clearly, I think it is implied in the Gospel of John: Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher). Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” Now, let us go to the Apostles Creed for a moment: And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven…
I believe, at this moment, Jesus is not quite in human form, and not fully in spiritual form, I believe he is somewhere in between, which is why those who know him don’t immediately recognize him, and why on the third day the sightings are brief. He is literally and figuratively passing through this plane of existence called Earth on his way to the Father, and once this transition is complete, the sightings will be longer, and as Thomas will find out, Jesus will be in a position to be able to be touched.
It is two thousand years later. We are still serving as blind witness to this miracle to top all other miracles. Why do we believe, when so many others do not? We have come to a different answer when the question is posed: "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.' We DO remember what Jesus said. We believe what every witness came forward and said, even though it was hard to believe that very day. Just like driving onto the scene of an accident, the proof is right there in front of us, the empty tomb, the rock rolled away and the statement; He is not here, he has risen, is all the evidence we will ever need. So, today we serve witness and rejoice, because we are saved. He is not here, he HAS risen. Christ has risen!!! Glory to God in the Highest! Alleluia! Amen!
Easter 2013 Lakewood
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LOVE NEVER ENDING
Revelations 22: 12 – 14, 16 – 17; John 17: 20 - 26
Let us pray: Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable to you O Lord, our rock and redeemer. AMEN!
There are two painters on a scaffold very high up in this Catholic Cathedral who are painting the ceiling. As they are going about their work, they are doing so very quietly as to not disturb anyone who comes into pray down below. As luck would have it, at one point in the middle of the afternoon a fragile looking older woman comes in and quickly kneels down and begins to pray. She is praying for some time when the one painter says to the other, let’s have some fun and calls out in a deep and loud voice; Little lady down there this is God speaking to you.” The woman doesn’t react. The painter finds this odd, and once again says; “Little lady down there this is God speaking to you.” Again, no response or reaction: now the painter is really perplexed and yells as loudly as he can: “Little lady kneeling in the pews down there in the Cathedral this is God speaking to you.” At this point, the woman lifts her head, shakes her fist toward the sky and replies; “Would you be silent already, I’m talking to your mother!” (pause) Once again ladies, Happy Mother’s Day to all of you!
What do you think of when you think of love. The first thought I always have is toward my mother, and before you ask why it isn’t my wife, I have a different word for her and that word is passionate. So, if I ever do a sermon about passion well then I will mention my wife first. But today, it’s all about love. Now that I think about it, I wasn’t totally accurate before, because I don’t think of just one mother on mother’s day, I think of three. It begins with the one who gave birth to me, and then in an incredible selfless act, placed me up for adoption. The mother you have all met here is indeed the woman who adopted me along with my father. The other woman who comes to mind is my mother-in-law who has been mom to me since her daughter received a diamond ring and a promise from me. You have heard me say that I’ve been blessed my entire life, and I say that yet again. I’ve had three women in my life love me as only a mother can. If that isn’t a gift from God, then I don’t know what else qualifies. Three different women, with motherly instincts, a mother’s knowledge, a mother’s compassion, and yet, have displayed their love for me in incredibly different ways. Different, because of how and when they came into my life. The first, carried me, and gave birth to me, then feeling like she couldn’t give me the life she wanted me to have, let me go. I can’t imagine how difficult a decision that must have been, how much love she must have had. I can’t imagine the pain she felt when she let me go, and I wonder if she ever regretted her decision, or, I really sincerely hope, she made peace with herself early on that she did make the right decision. I was blessed with the two who came for me. I believe my birth mother was Christian and I believe she prayed for me and my life, and I believe God heard her prayers. That is why I’m the son of Rosely and George LaFever, and I’ve had a life filled with love, filled with memories, filled with a family who brought me into the fold and never attached the adoption tag to me once. I came into a family with Grandparent’s who loved me from the moment they laid eyes on me, and my Grandmother and Nana were the epitome of love. Finally, the day after I proposed to Ann, and I promised her I would love her forever, her mother quietly made the same promise to me, and side by side with my own mother has loved me and supported me every step along the way ever since. During my life all of these women have expressed in many different ways love which never ends.
In today’s first reading from Revelations we hear a phrase for the second time in just over a month which should resonate within us: "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”
From what I understand, the non-believers and the doubters like to point at this verse and use it to support their argument of doubt. It’s two thousand years later, Jesus said he was coming soon, soon is two thousand years? Here’s my answer, in measuring it next to human time, the answer is no, two thousand years is NOT soon. However, we aren’t measuring this in terms of human time, we are measuring it against….eternity! Well, then, when measured against that, two thousand years is but a drop in the old bucket. But, I’m going to take this further and I’m going to say that when Jesus says he is coming soon, he is talking in numbers of generally 90 years or less. That is correct; I am speaking of one’s lifespan. Jesus says He is coming, but nowhere does it say he is coming back here. Think about what we have been hearing over the past few weeks, Jesus repeatedly says to the disciples; “Where I’m going, you can not follow.” He means at that moment, first when Jesus is crucified, and later when he ascends. The moment to die has not yet arrived for the disciples, thus, they can not follow him. But, when the disciples do die, when any of us die, and we are granted entry into almighty heaven, that is when our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will come for us, and with him is our reward of eternal life in heaven. It is only in arrogance and ignorance where one would dare think Jesus is returning here. Who are we to say where and when Jesus is going to appear? God is the Alpha and the Omega, not the human race. Understanding and accepting that first and foremost will help enlighten any of us to what’s really at stake.
What’s at stake? Love never ending that is what is at stake. We have considered today what our mothers and the women in this room right now who are mothers mean to us, and we celebrate you and we celebrate your love, your compassion your understanding and your comfort. But, the bottom line is when our moms are gone, so is everything they bring into our lives by being here. But, the good news is, it’s only a temporary ending. Our Lord and Savior awaits us in heaven, with love, Jesus awaits us with compassion, our Lord awaits us with understanding, and Jesus Christ waits for our arrival with comfort, love, and if we live our lives in a just and loving way here on earth, Jesus will greet us with the gift and the response we should all long to hear: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” That, my friends, is love never ending.
We as Christians know this very well. We know that God has never ending love for us, we know that Jesus’ one commandment to us was to love one another. Love and Christianity is synonymous with each other. Both our lessons today speak toward that. In our Gospel reading from John today we hear the prayer Jesus gives in the garden just before his arrest. That’s correct, this is what Jesus was praying, and knowing what is imminent. Let me set the stage once more as without the proper setting, I think we could lose sight of how loving and profound this prayer truly is. Jesus has already been betrayed by one of the twelve, Judas, who at this moment is enroute with the Roman Guards to arrest Jesus at the request of the High Priests. Over the days ahead, Jesus will be tried, beaten, humiliated, scorned, hung on a cross to die, and will be betrayed by yet another of his chosen twelve. NOW, with that setting in mind, let us hear his prayer at this moment: "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. "Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them." Think about the faith Jesus has here for just one moment, considering the setting I just gave you before reading that prayer. Two out of the twelve are already questionable yet Jesus isn’t only praying for them, he is praying that they will deliver the message correctly. For them to do that, they will need continued spiritual guidance. Next week, on Pentecost, we will hear and witness the response to this prayer in action.
May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Did the Apostle’s accomplish this task as Jesus prayed for it? My vote would be yes. As YOU give this some thought, don’t get stuck on the words complete unity because that is a mind trap. Jesus is praying for the Apostles to be in complete unity Jesus wasn’t praying for the world to be in complete unity, though, I’m sure Jesus had and continues to hold out hope for that one day. The message that God loves us, the message that Jesus loves us, the message that Christ wants us to love one another has very much been delivered, and continues to be delivered over and over again. The message is never ending because the love we are talking about is never ending. Yes, Jesus’ prayer was realized, and we continue to try to deliver the message in church in prayer and in action.
How could we not talk about love on Mother’s Day. Waiting for me when I arrived back from continuing education was a response sheet by our Adult Bible Class. They answered a question: Who is God? And they were asked to complete this sentence: God is a…. I found their responses to be thoughtful and insightful, but one thing jumped out at me from the God is a… responses. Included in the answer was God is a Father and God is a Brother. No where did I see God is a mother or a sister. Now, before you all fall out of your pews I understand that no prayer has ever begun Our Mother who art in heaven…I do get that. But, now that I’ve said that, let me just read some of the responses under Who God is: God is love…God is compassionate…God is full of grace…God is all knowing…God is merciful…God is awesome… God is good… God is forgiving. The most wonderful mothers I have ever known had all of these qualities. Let us give thanks to God for instilling those gifts in each of them. Alleluia, Amen!
Lakewood Mother’s Day May 12, 2013
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