Saturday, June 8, 2019

Year C, Pentecost, John 14.8-27 Blow, Spirit, Blow

The Gospel According to St. John, the 14th Chapter.
8 Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied." 9 Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
15 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
18 "I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them." 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, "Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?" 23 Jesus answered him, "Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.
25 "I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
The Gospel of the Lord.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.  Amen

Last week I preached on Jesus’ prayer in John 17, and what was so important to him that he would pray about it with his disciples at that time, just hours before his crucifixion.
I talked about how we as Christians have argued and fought over many things we thought to be so important.
But in the end, in his prayer, “Jesus didn't care about bacon. Or even theology or sin.
He prayed that we might be one, even as he and the Father are one.
Love makes that possible.”
Well the response to that message on-line has been interesting to say the least.
As of yesterday morning, the sermon had been sent to over 750 people in our community.
Of those people, 209 “engaged” the message.
87 “liked” the message.
25 “loved” it.
12 shared it with their friends.
And 3 were angry about it.
Actually, based on the 23 comments, there were more upset by the message than that.
The strongest objection that was voiced was that they felt that sin, judgment, and repentance needed to be emphasized a lot more.
One person commented:
“The Real God is all about love and forgiveness. He gave his only begotten Son to show it!” John 14:6.
In response another said:
“He's also about judgment. The judgment of sin. All sin.”
Yet another person said:
“Wrong Wrong ..Catholic doctrine is not touchy and feely..”
To which I responded:
“According to John, Jesus did three things during the last meal with his disciples. 1). Washed their feet. 2). Gave them a new commandment “to love one another even as I have first loved you. And 3) prayed that they may be one, as he and the Father are one.

Touchy feely Jesus. Or no Jesus.

The loving forgiving Jesus is all we got.”
The strongest reaction came from a man who claimed to be a “constitutionalist”, i.e part of a radical fringe political group, who declared that before there could be unity in Christ a civil war needed to be fought in this nation.  He went on to say that the 600,000 that died in our nation’s first civil war would be like a drop in the bucket compared with how many would die in the next.
So there you have it.
Many people absolutely loved the message on Christian  unity.
Some were angered by it.
And this man was willing to kill millions of people in a civil war as a means of achieving it.
John understands the message of the Gospel to be about love, pure and simple.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”  John 3:16
John shares Jesus’ words “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself."  John 12:32
In John we receive the new commandment Jesus gives to us:
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."  John 13:34-35
Last week we heard these words from Jesus’ prayer in John:
20 "I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, 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.  John 17:20-21
And the Gospel concludes with Jesus asking Peter if he loves him, three times.
Touchy, feely, Jesus indeed.
But that’s the only Jesus we have.
And he’s clearly about love.
And yet there are many who simply do not like this message of love. 
In response to all of this I shared on Facebook that The saddest thing about some Christians, I think, is the deep conviction they have that someone needs to be condemned.

No. God doesn’t have to do that.
In fact, God could simply love the world.
Imagine that.  Imagine a God who so loved the world that he would die rather than condemn it.
Imagine that.
Today is Pentecost.  We celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit.
It is by God’s Spirit that all things were created, in fact the Spirit of God is the very breath of life.
As the Psalm says:  You send forth your Spirit, and they are created.
God’s Spirit creates not only life, but faith.  And through faith, love.  And through love, perfect  obedience for ‘love is the fulfillment of the law.’
This is the work of the Spirit.
Paul writes about the gifts of the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians, the 13th Chapter:
4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9 For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
The Spirit creates faith.
The Spirit gives us hope.
And by the power of the Holy Spirit we are loved, and love.
I can already imagine the responses I will get when I post this message online.
What about sin and obedience? 
As one person said last week:
 “Sounds like hyper grace without judgement; "just love everyone" ...repent.”
Going back to Jesus’ words in the 3rd Chapter of John:
"Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.
So let me put it this way:
God loves the world.  Everything.  Everyone.  Period.
And what is sin?
Well, if the commandment is “that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another”
Then it follows that sin is to reject the love that God has for us, and both to fail to love our neighbor, and to refuse to accept the love that our neighbor shows to us.
The condemnation is that love flows so freely and graciously to us, BUT, rather than live in the light and in love, we choose to remain in the darkness, condemned to hate not love, which is its own punishment. 
I wish above all else that I could get everyone to see this.
But alas, that is above my pay grade.
Faith, hope, and love are gifts of the Holy Spirit.
It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that people can live in faith and trust the God of love.
It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can embrace the hope that is ours because of the love that God has showered upon us.
And it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can experience the love that God has for us, and that we can love God in return.
May God’s Spirit fill your hearts with this faith, this hope, and this love.

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