Sunday, May 17, 2020

Easter 6

Easter 6
17 May 2020
John 14:15-21
I will not leave you desolate

“O God, from whom all good things do come. Lead us by the inspiration of Your Spirit to think those things that are right, and by Your goodness help us to do them.
Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior reaches out to His fearful, lonely and hurting followers of all ages when He says to us, "I will not leave you desolate."
These words of comfort and hope mirror the last five words that He spoke to humans before He ascended into heaven. "I am with you always..." Jesus your Savior gives you His guarantee that He will not walk out on you.
Consider His words and promises this day.
We too can experience the same feelings of abandonment.
We experience trials, sickness and death. And now a virus. Which, we cannot see. Of which there is no vaccine. 

Some wish for life to return as it once was. 

Some fear how life will look moving forward. 

Still others; feel stuck in the present. 

What do they feel? Isolated. Secluded. Lonely. And we hate it. We can easily be tempted to feel as if Christ has left us too.
When these things happen, all of our options all seem to be bad ones. We may feel as if we are thrown to the wind. With no one to help us.
We lose our sense of direction. This may lead to losing our sense of perspective. Because these fears of loneliness brought on by isolation, separation and seclusion can easily overwhelm us.
These feelings of hopelessness have become a product of our times. We live with such rapid changes all around us. There are family problems, jobs that are threatened, economic situations and issues that are out of our control. Beyond our grasp.  Social and societal shifts we cannot easily understand.  And because so much is beyond our grip; we can feel the sense that we too, are losing control.
It is then that we conclude that our life is full of troubles and challenges and how weak we really are. As the old quip reminds us, "any fool can handle a's the day to day living that wears me down!"
In this midst of this trouble and strife, this chaos and confusion that the Savior comes to us with His Word of comfort and promise.
Yet Jesus understands our station in life and He promises to do something about our sorry lot.
He promises us the Counselor. For your aid and comfort.
Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will come and appears on your behalf to be a mediator, an intercessor, and a genuine helper for you.
Who is this counselor? He is the Spirit of truth, the One who can be known and revealed only by faith. He is the One who dwells and lives within you. While so many live with the mistaken notion that perception is reality, the Savior confirms to you that He is your reality. Christ alone is the solution to any feelings of abandonment. 
Jesus promised His disciples that He was leaving. They reasoned, they concluded, that they must solider it alone. This perception became their reality. Yet Jesus' promises trump any and all false conclusions. You are not alone. He sends you the Counselor, the Spirit of truth.
You are not alone.  "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come."  John 16:13.  "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." John 14:17
He will guide you - as a father leads his child by the hand, so will the Holy Spirit lead and guide you.  You are not alone. Christ has conquered. Christ has risen. The Spirit has come. He leads you still. Into all truth. Wherever you might go.

1.     The Spirit will come promises the Savior.
A.    The disciples felt abandoned.
1.     Jesus’ words bring forth Thomas’s troubled question of rejection and neglect, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”  -v.5
2.     The events in Jesus’ life that they would experience seemed to indicate that He had left them. Consider all they had witnessed; – His arrest, trial, crucifixion, entombment. – All this lead to further a feeling of isolation.
Remember His conversation with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus as they reasoned; “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.  In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive.  Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”-Luke 24:19-24
3.     But soon would come His resurrection, ascension, and Pentecost.
4.     And yet, they felt the fear expressed by St. Paul in Romans 8:35 – “who shall separate us?”
B.     Jesus understands and promises another Counselor.
1.     The Holy Spirit appears on your behalf as a helper in all sorts of trouble. St Paul teaches in 1 Timothy 2:5 “there is one ... Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.
Christ is the only   Mediator. He bore your sin in his body as your own.  Making reconciliation with God possible.
During this crucial time you’ve been instructed to frequently wash your hands to keep you healthy and prevent the spread of respiratory infections. The Father has washed His hands of a greater contagion – your sin.
The Father placed your sin on the back of His own Son. And by Jesus’ pierced hand and side; by His innocent suffering and death - you are now His own.
As the Catechism teaches; I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity.
But Paul further instructs us that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us - speaking right into your Father’s ear, “with groaning which cannot be uttered.” – Romans 8:26
Christ is your only mediator. He took your sin as His own.  The Holy Spirit is your only intercessor. He pleads for you.  Christ alone died for your sins. Making reconciliation possible.  
The Holy Spirit prays to the Father on your behalf. Based on the redeeming work of Christ. Further, the intercession of the Holy Spirit is not in heaven, as Christ’s work is. Rather, it is in you. The indwelling Spirit pleads to the Father on the grounds of the atoning work of Jesus your Redeemer.
John would remind us, “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.  And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” - 1 John 2:1–2 And, “The blood of Christ cleanses you from all sin.” 1 John 1:7
2.      The Counselor is the Spirit of truth, the One who can be known and comes only by faith, the One who dwells and lives within you.
C.     You are not orphaned!
1.     The helplessness and precariousness of life are ultimate and overwhelming only if we live spiritually alone.
2.     But by the Redeemer’s amazing Grace which comes to us through the Gospel. The Holy Spirit, your Advocate, lives within you.
3.     This promise, spoken by your Savior remains true. You are not alone, or abandoned; mere objects of fate. You are not a “no-body” going nowhere in life.
4.     By the indwelling Spirit you can say, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither dead, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come nor powers nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. “– Romans 8:35, 37-39
2 Jesus still comes.
A.    He spoke of His leaving.
1.     He would soon leave them by dying on the cross.
2.     He would leave them by ascending back to the Father and heaven’s glory.
B.     But He gave a promise.
1.     You will see me.” – The Resurrection and the forty days of Jesus’ earthly presence is all the proof you need that Jesus keeps His Word. Yet, Jesus continues. With more promises.  
2.     Because I live you shall live also.”  The promise of the resurrection for all who believe in Christ is a promise made especially for you.
3.     He still comes in His meal. In the simple forms of bread and wine. Yet hidden here are His promises – “This is my body.”  This is my blood.” “Give and shed for you for the forgiveness of all of your sins.”  
C.     He comes to remove desolation, despair.
1.     He comes to lead us by faith. “In that day you will know that I am in my Father and you in me, and I in you. “ v.20
2.     He comes to shape love and obedience within us. “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he is it who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself in him. V. 21
3.     He comes to give the daily resurrection of grace and the final resurrection to glory. “Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.
These words were spoken by Jesus at the supper table on Maundy Thursday. Soon the events which led to Jesus’ death on the cross would be put into motions. The disciples would wonder if Jesus had in fact failed and abandoned them.

But on Easter Sunday Jesus came back to deliver on His promises. And the disciples would know that He who was abandoned on the cross would, by the cross, never abandon them. By faith you know that also. The Spirit says so. The living Christ says so. “I will not leave you desolate.”
Words – 1,905
Passive Sentences –6%
Readability – 79.3%
Reading Level – 4.8

[1] The Sacrament of the Altar, copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

Note: Because of the Stay-in-place order issued by Governor Holcomb the Sacrament will be offered for the first time since - 3.15.2020 - Lent 3.

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