Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sermon for 24 May 2015, The Day of Pentecost

The Rev. Paul J Cain
St. John 14:23-31
Peace I Leave with You
The Day of Pentecost, 24 May 2015
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

In John 14:23ff Jesus is answering a question. What question? Who asked it? What does it mean for us? And who else asks questions along the way? Let’s listen to the Words of Comfort the Lord has for you in the verses leading up to our appointed reading for today:
"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him."
Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? 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 authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him."
Words of Gospel comfort abound in these opening verses of John 14. Questions from Thomas and Philip are answered patiently and pastorally, yet with some surprise that mere hours before His arrest these disciples still don’t comprehend the big picture by faith.

Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, "Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?" Judas the son of James asks Jesus more about the hidden reality that He has been describing. This question is answered in our appointed Holy Gospel, verses 23-31.
Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.
The fuller answer is coming. For the moment, we hear this: One who loves Christ will keep Christ’s Word. Such a one who loves Christ does not reject parts of the Old Testament here or New Testament there. Jesus’ Word is not one that we can go and edit with a word processor or a pair of scissors. It is a comprehensive whole. Both Deuteronomy and Revelation speak of the dangers of adding to or taking away from the prophecy of God’s Word. Societal pressures and personal preference are not valid reasons to deny or not keep Jesus’ teaching. They are not merely the words of a man. They belong to the Father who sent the Son.
Some in the world appear to believe that as long as we pass a law to command this or forbid that, that having laws will solve our problems. This theory rises and falls on the belief that laws compel obedience. They do not. Some people choose not to obey laws. People who don’t care about God’s law won’t care about human laws. Church and state stand in the gap between obedience and reality. The civil holiday called Memorial Day reminds us to remember those who died while serving in uniform. The Church Festival of Pentecost celebrates the pouring out of God the Holy Ghost on all Christians, He who delivers to us, here and now, the fruits of all that Jesus accomplished for us as an obedient Son of God and Son of Man.

The Father loves the ones who obey the Word. Such obedience does not earn forgiveness of sins or heaven, but the Father loves such loving obedience as if it were faith’s thank you note for what has already been given in Christ.
Jesus says, “We will come to him and make our home with him.” Jesus speaks of the promised Holy Spirit, mentioned by name in the next section. The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to convict each one of us of our sins through the law, and deliver the blessings of the Gospel. Have you felt guilty? Are you feeling guilty? Are there things you’d rather not hear about from the Word of God? Is the Spirit convicting you of your favorite, private, secret sins? Have you been confronted about something you don’t consider to be sinful? The Holy Spirit is doing His job. Repent and believe the Gospel! Leave behind your former ways of disobedience and sin.

"These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Be glad, exult, and be jubilant with joy in the forgiveness of sins, the Gospel.
How could men record the Words of God? This passage deals with that common objection to the faith. Yes, the Bible had human authors, but they were all inspired by the Holy Spirit to record what they did. God knew the historical situation, vocabulary, writing style, and language of each man. The Bible has many human authors, but over them all there is one Divine Author, God Himself. The Spirit was sent to teach and remind. The apostles, prophets, and evangelists were inspired to record what God had given.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
Could the comfort of the Gospel be any clearer? He wants to give you peace unlike any so-called peace that the world can give. Peace treaties can be temporary. World peace is elusive. It’s not going to happen! In the last days there will be wars and rumors of wars. The peace Jesus leaves with you is peace with the Lord. That heavenly peace breaks into human history on Jesus’ Cross and vicarious sacrifice. That peace with God translates into peace between those with whom God has made peace. You are to be at peace with one another and love one another. That is how Christians are to be known. And not by backbiting, gossip, making assumptions, plotting behind another’s back, abuse, neglect, uninformed speculation, or even little snide comments that often ARE overheard.
Jesus gives you peace with God. You have the promise of life eternal, an end to the war humanity has fought with God since the Battle of Eden. Jesus signed the peace treaty with His own blood. That is His testament for you, your inheritance of peace. Therefore, make peace with all around you. Share the peace of Christ. Be of one accord in Christ.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
During the Lent and Easter seasons, we alternated Divine Service on Wednesdays with the service of Compline, Prayer at the Close of the Day. Compline is a bedtime service. Our practice has been to include a sermon at the very beginning, but the basic idea of the service historically and pastorally was to give Gospel comfort to Christians so that they may watch with Christ when awake and when asleep, may rest in peace. Brief readings follow confession and absolution, a psalm, and a hymn. This portion of John 14 is one of those brief, comforting, Gospel readings.
As we enter the long Trinity Season with its green paraments, we will resume alternating Divine Service on Wednesdays with the service of Evening Prayer. Gospel comfort will continue all summer and fall here, especially on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings. Some people will search all summer, some all fall, and some their whole life long for something give them the comfort they’ve been avoiding or missing in Christ. In St. Augustine's Confessions (Lib 1,1-2,2.5,5: CSEL 33, 1-5) Augustine shares the truth, "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you."
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Jesus continues: You heard me say to you, 'I am going away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.”
Let us rejoice! The Son has gone to the Father to prepare a place for us! Alleluia! He is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! He has told us many things before they take place so that you would not be deceived. The one sent from heaven returned to heaven at His ascension, yet He abides with you until the end of the age. He will never leave you nor forsake you. You have His peace with you and His comforting presence for you. His Spirit abides within you! What wondrous love is this! The Peace of the Lord be with you always. Amen.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Sermon for 17 May 2015, Seventh Sunday in Easter, Exaudi

The mp3 audio for Sunday's sermon
on persecution and religious liberty
can be found here: