Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sixth Sunday of Easter A (2011)

+ In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti + Amen.

Text: John 14:16
Theme: Another Counselor

Dear friends in Christ Jesus,

God lends and God gives. He lends us worldly goods but He gives us heavenly treasures. The good things of His creation are on loan to us but His own Son, the uncreated One, is the keeper of our eternal inheritance. Here we are stewards. In heaven we will be nobles. But already we are saints. We have His word. We have His Spirit. We have His life. What we have now by faith we will one day have by sight.

We should not be surprised that people are searching for a deeper meaning to life in all the wrong places. That is proven by recent events: Claims to be the Messiah and predictions for the end of the world. The Bible warns about false prophets and false prophecies. They have always been around. They always will be. Those dealing with crises in their lives are easy targets. Widespread biblical illiteracy makes people more vulnerable still. People cling to false hopes and pursue vain ambitions.

The most powerful of false hopes is the illusion that somehow people will be able to negotiate eternity on their own. Whether it’s the belief there will be no judgment at all or the conviction that we’re already worthy of immortality, humanity is prone to constructing its own schemes of rescue. The illusion that God can be fooled is exactly as old as the sin of Adam and Eve. Not with cunning, or strength or claims of virtue can we ever exonerate ourselves before God. We are guilty, sinners-every last one of us.

Consider the story of a defendant who was on trial for murder. There was strong evidence indicating guilt, but no body was found. In the defence's closing statement the lawyer, knowing that his client would probably be convicted, resorted to a trick. "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I have a surprise for all of you," the lawyer said as he looked at his watch. "Within one minute, the person presumed dead in this case will walk into this courtroom." He looked toward the courtroom door. The jurors, somewhat stunned, all looked on eagerly. A minute passed. Nothing happened. Finally the lawyer said, "Actually, I made up the previous statement. But, you all looked on with anticipation. I therefore put to you that you have a reasonable doubt in this case as to whether anyone was killed and insist that you return a verdict of not guilty." The jury, clearly confused, went to deliberate. A few minutes later, the jury returned and pronounced a verdict of guilty." But how?" inquired the lawyer. "You must have had some doubt; I saw all of you stare at the door." The foreman of the jury replied, "Oh, we looked, but your client didn't."

Dear friends, our guilt is not in doubt; but neither is the grace of God in Christ. Note what the Lord says today. He will send the Holy Spirit, whom He also calls “the Spirit of truth” but, “The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him.”1 Why can the world not accept the Holy Spirit? Why can unbelievers not come to God under their own power and through their own choice? Because all people are born naturally blind and dead in original sin. The unregenerate cannot but remain in disobedience and ignorance. But when the gospel is proclaimed, when people are condemned in their sins and directed to the grace and merits of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit promises to be present. Through the word of truth the Holy Spirit engenders faith. Everything changes. The struggle then ensues between the selfish sinful nature and the new life in the Spirit. This struggle is the very dynamic of living from and in the baptismal promise. The Spirit leads this struggle.

The Holy Spirit is referred to as a Counselor or Comforter or Advocate. The Spirit draws us to the Father through the Son. He also is an intercessor. He bends our hearts and minds to God’s will. The message of Jesus to His disciples today is clear, “If you love Me, you will obey what I command.”2 The believer endeavors to follow the will of God. He calls us to have the mind of Christ.3 St. Paul states the matter like this, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice and the God of peace will be with you.”4 Are Christians still trained to think this way? Is the church devoted to such endeavors? First on the apostle’s austere list is truth. Could this be a coincidence?

Are we committed to bringing our best resources to bear on the subject of things true and holy? Do we fear that too much openness and honesty will turn off those who may be seekers and even drive away those who are already in the church? Do we speak clearly about things we think everyone will agree with but avoid topics that may be controversial? Are we happy to speak of God’s patience, tolerance, and general love, but avoid topics like abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, and the exclusive way of salvation in Jesus? God’s truth shapes our life and witness concretely. When God speaks we cannot be silent. When He is silent we have the glorious freedom to live as best serves our neighbour. May the Holy Spirit quickly call us to account and lead us to repentance whenever and wherever we sacrifice biblical truth to serve human agendas.

The context of today’s gospel reading is the Upper Room on Maundy Thursday. Jesus will soon be crucified. Because they were worried about going it alone or making their own way the Lord comforted His followers saying, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit.”5 And then came these powerful and comforting words, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long the world will not see Me anymore, but you will see Me. Because I live, you also will live.”6

Dear friends this Christian life of faith endures, is revived and flourishes, only through the continual bestowal of the forgiveness of sins. The means of grace- word, water, bread and wine-bring us into contact with the living Jesus. The gospel has resurrection power. It has vivifying power. It is a life-giving word because Christ conquered death in His crucifixion. Because He lives we are not trapped here on an endless merry-go-round of change and uncertainty. Paul said today, “He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising Him from the dead.”7 Christ breached our time and space. The Creator stooped down to the level of His creation. “When the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law.”8 His presence sanctifies our moments, hours, and days. Amen.
+ in nomine Jesu +

Sixth Sunday Of Easter
29 May, 2011
Reverend Darrin L. Kohrt

1 John 14:17 2 John 14:15
3 See 1 Corinthians 2:16 4 Philippians 4:8-9
5 John 15:16 6 John 14:18-19
7 Acts 17:31 8 Galatians 4:4-5