Worship on May 21, 2017

Reverend Lindsey Williams

If You Love Me

John 14:15-21

 

Gospel Reading


15”If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17This 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. 19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21They 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.”


Interpretation of the Word  


How are you doing this morning?  Are you feeling good?  Are you feeling like it’s all coming together? Or maybe you feel like it’s all falling apart.  Or maybe you are making it but it could be better, but it could also be much worse.  In the midst of all that is going on, do you ever feel alone?  Ever feel like even though you are surrounded by people, surrounded by ones you love, you are still alone?  


In this season of Easter, the disciples wrestle with the knowledge that Jesus is going to leave them.  Last week we heard Jesus tell the disciples he was going to return to the Father.  Jesus told them he was going to leave them.  They were going to be all alone.  This week Jesus continues his instruction to the disciples about what they should do once he has gone, and he makes them a promise too. 


Let’s begin with the promise.  Jesus promises the disciples that even though he is going to return to the Father, he will not leave them alone.  Jesus is going to send another Advocate to be with them, forever.

Say what?  Wait a minute, Jesus! We can almost hear the disciples thinking, if not saying, “Jesus, If you loved us, you would just stay.  Don’t go.”  Let’s be honest, it would be so much better is Jesus was physically here.  If he had been on earth a little while longer.  Teaching not just a few short years of ministry, but a long ministry; walking alongside his disciples for longer.  If we’re being really honest with ourselves, most of us would rather have the physical presence of the Lord, rather than some unseen spirit that is promised.  Someone we can turn to, ask questions of, turn to when we are struggling in the moment of life.


God knows!  God knows that the disciples are going to feel abandoned and orphaned.  God even knows that we even have those same feelings.  Orphaned.  Abandoned.  Let down.  Left behind.  Forgotten.  Misunderstood.  Unrepresented.  Overlooked.  Without another who understands what you’re going through.  Your hearts cry out, “Jesus If you loved us, you would have stayed.”  


All of us feel this way, at one point or another.  None of us ever have it all together.  God knows this.  God knows that we need someone with us.  God knows that we cannot do this life alone.  We first see this in the garden with Adam and Eve when they walked in relationship with God.  The moment, Adam and Eve were out of sight of God, they got themselves into trouble; they did the one thing they were told not to.  They trusted the world, the serpent, over what God had told them, and they ate from the tree of knowledge.  

God loves us so much that he came to be with us again, as Jesus as our advocate, live and in the flesh.  God with us,  to remind us what relationship with God really looks like.  Jesus


God came in Christ and lived and offered this abundant life even when it upset those who wanted to control life, even when it cost Jesus his life. In fact, God came in Christ and was willing to suffer and die on the cross in order that we might know just how much God loves us and just how far God is willing to go to show us God’s profound love.


But that wasn’t enough. So God also raised Jesus from the dead to show us that nothing – not even death itself – can keep God from loving us and redeeming the whole world.


And that still wasn’t enough. So God continues to come in the Holy Spirit in order to encourage us and look out for us and care for us and stay with us and walk along side of us. In short, God comes in the Holy Spirit to be like Christ for us…every day! God comes in the Holy Spirit to be another Advocate, our Advocate, who will not give up on us…ever.


God is with us.  Even now, in this very moment, and in every other moment.  


God came into the world, as Jesus Christ, that we might see just what God wants for each and every one of us: love.


Love is more than affection and devotion: it is keeping Jesus instructions.  To love him is to love one another.

Being the world is love.  This commandment comes to us from Jesus saying in chapter 13, I give you a new commandment: to love god and love one another as I have loved you.  But ultimately this derives from even farther back in john, from John 3, For God so loved the world that he gave his only son…


How has Jesus expressed this love


Jesus teaches us to love.  He didn’t just say go love God and one another and that was that.  No he showed the disciples just what that looked like.  Each and every day of his ministry.  Over and over, he healed people.  On multiple occasions, he fed people.  He spoke to women when it was culturally unacceptable.  He ate with the outcasts.  He welcomed the unwelcome.  He took fishers and taught them how to fish with great purpose.  He lifted children on his lap and welcomed them into the fold.  He turn people away because they weren’t perfect, instead he used their imperfection to God’s glory.  


So if we are going to follow the commandment of love, the one that comes ultimately from God, shown to us through Jesus and his ministry, then how are we to love? 


It is a way of being, a way in which God’s love is manifest in the world through us

What does love look like.


Here are just a few examples from within our own denomination:


First Presbyterian Church of Broken Bow Oklahoma, may not have a full time pastor or even a covenant pastor, but their membership of 73 is active in the community, supporting the community with volunteer and financial support at the local food bank and thrift store and their continued involvement to help establish a housing center for the area’s homeless population.  They also host their sunrise Easter service at a popular area state park, drawing 50 to 60 locals and tourists to the service.


Two mission co-workers in Honduras recently finished a project in the town they were working in of installing a new solar lighting system in remote villages where residents had little hope for electricity.  

Trinity Presbyterian Church in Topeka Kansas doesn’t rest after the busy holiday season, instead they keep up their activities.  They offer square dancing classes, potluck dinners, visits for shut-ins and numerous other projects to support the congregation and surrounding community.

  

Woodlands Community Presbyterian Church, in Texas, was instrumental in the planning and opening a free clinic for the medically underserved in their community.  Each year they host a Thanksgiving Observance that recognizes the many different faiths in in the community and give thanks for the diversity of their community.  

At Union Presbyterian Church in Minnesota, each member is asked, “what gifts do you have that aren’t being used in this church?  Each person is encouraged to use the gifts they already possess to be tapped into and further honed in service of the church.  


We each have been called.  Called by our Father in heaven to love.  And then family calls, we answer.  We answer because we know that we are loved.  Loved by God and loved by this community of faith.  We answer because this family of faith loves us and we love one another and we share in the desire to do the best we can in the service of others.  


Jesus is calling us to see just how much God loves us and honor that abiding love with love for one another.  


June 28, 2017
SUNDAY WORSHIP

 

Worship Service 11:00AM

Adult Bible Study   9:45AM

Children's Class  11:00AM 

   

SERMON ON SUNDAY: July 2, 2017  "Welcome"

 

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