In pm's words
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May 21, 2017, 12:00 AM

the one about the spirit dwelling...


Sermon from May 21, 2017

Text: John 14: 15-21

Grace and peace to you from God our creator and our Lord Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our Redeemer; amen!

So, there’s a question that I’m always asked that I never really know how to answer. For most people, it is an incredibly easy question to answer. The question? Where do you come from?

For many – like my wife – that’s an easy answer; Lexington, SC. For me? I usually begin with, “Well…lots of places.” Do you want to know where I was born? Then Lubbock, TX. What about the places I first really remember living? Then Austin, TX and San Diego, CA. What about the places I lived the most time in? Then Naples, Italy (4+ years) and Columbia, SC (8+ years). Maybe it’s the last place I lived? Then Mason, MI. Sometimes it’s where I live now. Right here in Newberry. Either way, finding out where someone lives or dwells isn’t always an easy answer.

Where we live or dwell – today – is much more ‘transitory’ than ever before. Our world is in constant flux and people are moving around a lot. It seems the time has (mostly) passed when you are born in a place, you live there your entire life, and you stay there to raise a family, establish deeper roots, and eventually that place is your final resting. Now, of course there are many who have and who still will live into that sort of life, but the movement has already begun that we skip and hop all over the place. We live in different places all the time.

In our gospel text today, Jesus gives further words of comfort to his disciples (remember, we’re still in this text where Jesus is talking to his friends the night before he is handed over to the authorities and leading to his death on the cross). He promises them that they will not be abandoned, they will not be orphaned, they will not and never be alone.

Why? Because another – an advocate – is being sent by God to be with them. They will never be abandoned because this advocate – the Holy Spirit – will abide with them.

Abide.

That’s not a word that we normally hear outside of scripture. We don’t use it all that much – if ever – in our daily conversations. Abide in its simplest definition means to live or dwell. But, it isn’t – in my opinion – live or dwelled in the same sense that ‘living’ means now. Abide has a much more permanent connotation to it.

When you abide in something, it’s something that has taken root in you and where you take even greater comfort in that thought. There is that firmness and permanence in that word and feeling that you know it doesn’t leave you.

When Jesus tells his disciples that the Spirit will abide with them it is bringing even greater comfort because with that word there is a sense of ‘forever’ in his words. The Spirit is coming – and will be there abiding with you – forever.

In that abiding, in that love, you will keep my commandments.

Yet, even ‘keep’ in this sense is not what we initially expect. There is a tendency to think that Jesus is simply telling his disciples that they will OBEY these commandments. And, they will. But, as Jesus is speaking here it isn’t in a ‘you do this, or else’ kind of guilt trip.

In this love that Jesus knows that his disciples (and we) have for him, we will keep these commandments of his. We will hold them close to us and follow because the Holy Spirit is abiding within us.

We hold on to the words and commandments of Jesus. Following them, not because we have to but, we get to because of our thankfulness for what God has already done.

I heard a touching story this week. A mother and her daughter, every morning shared a moment of conversation, love, and coffee as the daughter was growing up. Each morning, her mom had coffee in her mug and they laughed and talked about what the day would bring and what life had brought. They did this for years  and decades – even as the daughter grew up and the mother continued to grow old.

After the mother had died, the daughter received that very coffee mug. And she began to have conversations of love and life with her own children in those daily morning gatherings. She keeps that mug and the love and promise within it close to her.

Her mother gave her that mug to continue to live in the way that she lived for her. To share with her children that special time in the morning of love and conversation. She didn’t say, “You have to do this.” But, in a way much like our Lord in our reading this morning. Keep this mug. Remember me, you are not alone. Share your love like I shared mined with you.

So, she does. Not because she has to, but because she gets to. She holds that life close to her, she keeps her mother’s ‘commandments’ and love with her children.

We are reminded today and shown in a few weeks (as we celebrate Pentecost Sunday) that all is not lost. We are not forgotten. We are not orphans. God has not abandoned us.

Another has been sent. Another has come. This one is to help us continue in the ways that Jesus has set before us. To remind us that we are good – that all are good. That we are to share in the love of God with everyone. That God continues to abide with us through the Holy Spirit.

That this abundant life in which we are grafted into and gifted isn’t an end because Jesus has died, risen from the dead, and soon to ascend to be with the Father. It is instead a beginning of living into a life of abundance that leads to eternal life with God. We get to live in it now. We get to abide in that life of love with and for our Lord and our God.

Where with the Holy Spirit with us – we can continue to live into and grow the kingdom of God before us. Where we continually invite others into this love that we have been gifted. Where we are able to scream from our mountains and valleys of Christ’s victory over sin and death for the world in the wonderfully empty tomb!

Of course – doing that at times is difficult and we get lost in our ways. We get beaten down by the world, we become short, snippy, critical, and depressed because of all the hatred, bloodshed, violence, and apathy. Yet in those moments, we are reminded by our Gospel this morning that the Spirit will be and has been sent to remind us of Christ’s presence in the world – in our lives. The spirit abides in us. In that abiding, we hold and keep our Lord’s commandments and love.

That we are supported and lifted up in and through our love for one another in the Body of Christ. Where we get to see the spirit at work in us and through us. Where we together get to see the kingdom at work in us and in the world.

We are reminded today that in our love of our Lord, because we do love our God, the Spirit has been sent to live, dwell – abide – with us. Taking up permanent residence in each of us. In that abiding spirit, we hold close the love and commandments of our Risen Lord. Not because we have to, but out thankfulness we get to.

Amen.

 

 

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