His Presence Blesses Us as
He Makes His home among us
† In Jesus Name †
May you realize the joy and peace God gives you, as Jesus comes and makes His home, right here, with you!
Home for the Holidays
Maybe it is a certain smell, or perhaps an ornament you take out of the box, or it’s a Christmas Carol being sung in a certain way, but most of us have something that takes us back “Home” for the holidays. You know, that place that exists in time, that defines what your heart knows as being home, as life is perfect.
For me, it is sitting at the piano that now sits in my aunt’s basement, much as it sat in my grandfather’s basement. It was there, playing Adeste Fideles and the First Noel that was a moment I define as being “home”. There are things that remind us of those precious days. And for those who are blessed, you can find more than one example of them. Maybe it is this year that you will find the scene of home that will etch itself in your memory as being “home for the holidays” The time where being with friends and family when peace reigned and was so real
In our gospel reading this morning, we see an incredible statement about being home.
So Jesus became human, and made his home among us.
God became man and found a place to live. Here, among us.
Not just with the apostles back in the day, but here, with you and me. He in our lives, where He still lives and reigns today.
In these incredible deep and complex words that start John’s sharing of the good news of Jesus, these words are the ones we most need to hear, the words that are the most mind-blowing, the hardest to make sense of,
Jesus became man, and made His home among us.
There is a lot in the passage, from the teaching about the Trinity to the description of the world rejecting Him. Theologically, we could spend weeks going over the first five verses. And the “who is God?” questions would still not find answers to satisfy everyone.
The next few verses, talking about some not recognizing and rejecting him, while others would be born again, not a physical birth but something more incredible, being born as children of God.
Theologians have talked and argued and wrote about such things since the first century. Words longer my arm have been used by experts to determine exactly how God did what He didn’t describe.
These verses are all important – please understand me, we have to struggle with them, we need to work them, but tonight, we need to realize this.
God came and made His home among us.
Other translations use the word dwelt with us, and that isn’t a horrid translation, but it doesn’t quite give the passage the full incredible joy that should overflow as we hear this.
First, because the word isn’t just dwelt, it is to tabernacle, to set up a residence with us. For someone in the first century, this was setting up the permanent tent residences in which you would live. It is setting up a home.
There is another sense to this, the idea that the verb is aorist tense. It doesn’t have a definite time period, and in this case, not a specific end. It’s not just about the day Jesus was born, or end the day He was crucified and died.
What this means is that we can say this. Even as He came and made His home among the apostles, He is still coming and making His home among us.
And like the apostles, we behold His glory, we get caught up in His love, we find healing for our hearts and souls in His mercy, we find hope for our tomorrows, for He is present, and promises to never leave or forsake us.
He is here. He has made His home in our lives.
This is the place He calls home.
As we come to the altar, may you realize the glory you behold and the peace of God that will make you realize that you are home with God! AMEN!
A Nice Place to Stay
But It Isn’t Home!
2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
† IHS †
As you wander through this journey of life, may you know the grace of God our Father, that reminds you that this isn’t your final home!
A Parker Parable: The Christian Life is Like a Vacation!
Often in scripture, a story is used to illustrate a point of great spiritual significance. The old name for these, especially when Jesus used them, was a parable. Today’s Epistle reading, the one William did, will be explained with such a parable….
The Christian Life is like a vacation.
That is, it might be a nice place to stay for a while, but it isn’t home.
The Good Bad and Ugly
Anyone here ever have the a vacation that could have been made into a movie, because it was such a comedy of errors? How about the vacation that was the ultimate in disasters? Even the most perfect vacation, there is a point where you’ve exhausted yourself, and realize it is time to go home.
You know how you feel, when you get back home, drag the suitcases from the trunk, a drag them into the bedroom, and collapse on the bed, and fall into a deep and peaceful sleep?
in a real sense, life is like that vacation, and heaven is even more like home than the bed you fall into… even more restful, even more peace-filled, but glorious!
The Man Made Life
The Apostle Paul, who wrote the letter to the church, uses this illustration in the last verse of our reading, when he says,
For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.
Anyone here remember going tent camping for the first time, or in my case, using a tent-trailer for the first time… or wait…even the last time? When you struggled to put it all together, when you accidently camp in the dry stream bed? When you realized you didn’t plan for going to the bathroom, or you forget the can opener or the matches to light you coleman stove?
We make a lot of errors in our lives. Some are out of ignorance, some are because we are too proud and stubborn, and have the strange idea that we know more than God about how life should be lived.
The result? Watching the tent washed away by the sudden rush of water that filled the creek, or finding out that poison oak is not a good substitute for toilet paper, or spending all your energy trying to rub two sticks together for 45 minutes to start that fire.
You want to give up, you want to quit, you want to drive home now, and call the vacation quits. Sometimes life is like that, we get so overwhelmed at how broken it can get. The troubles may not be as big as we make them, matter of fact we may learn a lot from them, if we breath and take our time.
Other troubles are that big, and the brokenness they cause may seem like we can’t go on, that we can’t get past them.
So I spoke.
Let’s go back up to the beginning of the reading again. Paul explains why he preaches, why he talks about Jesus.
13 But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.”
When we hear this, what we don’t hear is the context of Paul’s life, and we really don’t hear what the Psalmist was thinking, because the verse is only partially included. Let me share with you’re the rest of it,
Ps 116:10 — I believed in you, so I said, “I am deeply troubled, LORD.”
Sounds like David’s been on some of my vacations!
You see, the faith that the Psalmist and St. Paul shared was a trust in God that led us to call out to God when life falls apart. When our own sin, or just the unrighteousness of a broken world consumes us.
Because we believe, we go to Him, we speak to Him, we call out to Him.
You see, one of the sins that so easily ensnares us, is when we think we can live without God, either because we think He doesn’t care, or that He has written us off because we’ve done something so bad He can’t heal and restore us.
If you are familiar with the 10 commandments, one of them is,
7 “You must not misuse the name of the LORD your God. The LORD will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name. Exodus 20:7 (NLT)
I want you to think about something for a moment.
We usually think of misuse being when you use God’s name to cuss, or swear, or teach false doctrine. But it is also a misuse of God’s name when you don’t use it when you should. When you could call out to Him for help and comfort when you are troubled, when you need to be rescued, when you find life to broken or to frustrating.
That’s the point of being in a relationship, with God and with the people of God. To know the presence that brings comfort and peace. To know the love that will sustain you, and will celebrate with great joy with you.
The Glorious Relationship
This is what enables St. Paul to write:
16 That is why we never give up! Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!
Paul knows that the troubles that we face, and he often faced the worst of them, don’t have to lead us away from God to find peace, but rather, they lead us to Him. That is the trust that Paul and the writers of the Psalms have in God, to know that the God who will renew their spirits, who will lift them and us up, when we are down. That will help us, as Paul continues,
we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever!
The things we can’t see? This is what the passage before the reading told us:
18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NLT)
We fix our eyes on the promises we have in Christ. We fix our eyes on Christ
And knowing His plans for us, for all of eternity, knowing His love and mercy which can heal our brokenness, can cleanse us of the effect of every sin, that brings us into the Father’s glory… we call out to Him in confidence, and find in His answer, a peace that goes beyond all understanding, and guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. John 1:14 (NLT)
May you realize the blessing of Christ making His home with you…the love and mercy and promise of eternity!
My friend Chris ( our Minister of Worship ) and I were talking last night between services, of the ride we and our friends have had over the last sixteen or seventeen months. There has been so much trauma, so many tragedies, so much going on physically, emotionally, spiritually, that it hasn’t seemed like we were singing and playing and leading worship n Christmas Eve.
There seemed to be a disconnection, a hard to believe gap between the calendar and our minds. It just didn’t seem like Christmas yet…..
It’s like being away from home to long, there is a sense you belong there… but it takes a while to get acclimated. I felt this even more going back to New England this year, taking William and Kay to see where I grew up, to walk where my family lived and played and grew up.
Yet home is here, especially here at this altar. Home is here, with the people of God. It is odd to have two homes, especially two so radically different.
In the gospel this morning There is an amazing line.
The theologians will talk about the importance of the first three verses, where I focus on the last two.
14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
Some older translations will phrase this – and dwelt among us. But the words in Greek talk about setting up camp, your base, where you and your family dwell. It talks of setting up the place you call home.
Jesus came and established His home with us.
He whose first home was with the Father and Holy Spirit, makes His home with us, in our midst. He who is used to hearing the angels singing praises, whose home is a place we can’t even picture, we can’t even imagine the sound, our hearts cannot even conceive of the glory there…..
He leaves that home, and He just walks into our lives, uninvited, and makes Himself at home. He belongs here, with us.
27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. Colossians 1:27 (NLT)
Jesus made His home with us.
Normally a Lutheran sermon would include the law, a look at how we’ve broken our relationship with Him.
No need to do that here – we realize how odd it seems that a pure, holy, sinless God would tolerate our presence.
Much less make His home with us….
But that is why He has come……
To make His home with us….
14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. John 1:14 (NLT)
That we would realize we have another home, one far different that this home….
For our home is with the Father in heaven…
And may we walk all the way home, at the side of Christ…
Devotional Thought of the Day:
1 Lord, through all the generations you have been our home! 2 Before the mountains were born, before you gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are God. Psalm 90:1-2 (NLT)
331 Rest in divine filiation (the love between father and son). God is a Father—your Father!—full of warmth and infinite love. Call him Father frequently and tell him, when you are alone, that you love him, that you love him very much!, and that you feel proud and strong because you are his son. (1)
I have spent this fall in an interesting sermon series, one that has made me go back and look at part of my youth. In the middle of the series, I went home, driving the same roads that I’ve talked about in the series, walking the same paths my Dad and I trod with my son. Re-living those conversations when I was sitting in the backseat – a young child with his siblings.
It has been painful along the way, my dad passed away last year, and many of the journeys, to my old elementary school, to Lake Ossipee, to the beaches at Salisbury, even to the old candlepin bowling alley, brought back many memories, some good, some challenging. Lots of tears, and the odd reversal – now I was the dad, now I had a son.
All of this – there sermon series recounting backseat conversations of childhood, the trip, it all coalesces into a huge lesson of nostalgia, and a realization about God’s presence.
I overlooked – to an extent – the verse above in Sunday’s sermon. There is a lot there – He is our home, or as we heard a couple of weeks ago, our refuge. But to hear God is our home, the place we come to be nourished, to be sae, to come when we are sick and find healing and rest. There is a blessing there that goes beyond explanation. To realize we are the children of our Heavenly Father, that we are on this journey to our home, is overwhelming.
It even overwhelms the overwhelming challenges of this life.
He is our Dad, our Father, the one in whom we trust.
With Him, we are Home.
And He is here… with us.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1312-1315). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
“Holiness is attained with the help of the Holy Spirit, who comes to dwell in our souls, through grace given us by the sacraments and as a result of a constant ascetical struggle. My son, let us not have any false illusions about this. You and I—I will never tire of repeating it—will always have to struggle, always, until the end of our lives. So we will come to love peace, and we will spread peace around us, and we will receive our everlasting reward.” (1)
It’s time to get back to work, back to the grind of daily ministry, of seeing the list of prayer requests great me from being a week away. Glad to see some praises there as well, glad to see what people are thankful for in their lives. But it is time to get back to work.
It never really left of course. There were those in Rome that struggled with life, and with issues. There were people we met and talked to, who didn’t understand the magnificence of God’s glory, that was testified all around them in the artwork of mankind. But now I am home, with my family, with my church family, the people that have bonded together while we have sought peace.
Holiness is a struggle, and as St Josemarie says, an ascetical struggle. But I’ve come to realize ascetical isn’t about what you are giving up, it isn’t about sacrifice of things noble and good. It is the sacrifice of things which distract us from God, from His love, His mercy, His glory… and yes, the peace that we come to love. it is so counter-cultural to our world that we cannot grasp onto it easily. The televisions and music blaring, the things that crave attention of our senses. Each, if not focused on God, robs us of some of His peace. Each, if focused on God, draws us into that peace, into that life where it makes sense.
It’s good to be back, it’s good to look at Jude and the passage on which I shall preach tomorrow… it’s good, because even more than standing in the Basilicas of Rome, in the chapels, and in the oratory, it is here that I will find peace…. among the people I have been called to share that peace with,
It is a struggle, but a very joyous one. For God gathers us together, as His people, called and marked by His Name…into His presence… may we always recognize the glory that comes in such times.
It is good to be home!
(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1647-1651). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional/discussion thought of the Day:
It’s been too many days away…. even though the men I am with on this retreat are fun loving guys, and there is a great sense of camaraderie among them, it is not the same as being home with my wife and son, and my congregation. I have confidence in the vicar preaching there this morning, ( as I do in the other vicar and deacon extending the ministry this morning) but there is something about being there.
I can’t wait to get home. I can’t wait to get back to my people. (and out of the range of the country western stuff I was subjected to all week)
As i long for that, I think about the Lord’s Supper, the Communion feast of God and His people, the Eucharist.
It is, more than anything, the place I know I am home. It is where we belong, very consciously aware of the presence of God, the awe found in His presence, which rips our sin, our idols, our anxieties away.
I have to admit a bit of jealousy of my Catholic brothers in ministry, who don’t wait a week in between celebrating this feast, this homecoming, this little glimpse of the joy of heaven, this peace which crushes all else.
It’s time for going home… it’s time for the family to dine, the host to bless us, even as He thanks the Father for the cross that made this feast possible.
I love how St. Josemarie Escriva put it, “As he was giving out Holy Communion that priest felt like shouting out: this is Happiness I am giving to you!” (1)
This is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, happy are those who are called to His Supper,
Lord, we are not worthy to receive, but only say the words……and we are healed….
For we are home, with God.
(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1105-1106). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.