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Our Place is His Place!

 Our Place is His Place

And the World would know!

John 14:23-31

 Jesus, Son, Savior

 May we welcome the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, confident of the love and mercy with which He cleanses our lives, and sets them apart to live in Christ with the Father!

 Mi Casa et Su Casa:  Ruth

Pentecost is more than a Sunday we celebrate once a year.  It is more as well than the longest church season of the year – when that banner is up there, and when I wear a green stole to symbolize the growth of the church.

It is the start of something wonderful, something which defines every day every moment of our life.  Because of the Holy Spirit, the one we confess is the Lord and Giver of our life.

One of the best illustrations of that life is found in the story of Naomi and Ruth.  The promise that Jesus makes to us, comes more fully into focus when we hear the promise Ruth made to Naomi,

But Ruth said, “Don’t force me to leave you; don’t make me go home. Where you go, I go; and where you live, I’ll live. Your people are my people, your God is my god; 17  where you die, I’ll die, and that’s where I’ll be buried, so help me GOD—not even death itself is going to come between us!” 18  When Naomi saw that Ruth had her heart set on going with her, she gave in. Ruth 1:16-18 (MSG) 16  

Of course, the Holy Spirit doesn’t say it quite like that – but the desire, the commitment, the very attitude of God is no less than Ruth’s, even unto death, God has made us a promise.  “and We (the Father and Jesus) will come to him, and make Our Home with Him.”

May we indeed be like Naomi, and realizing that God has His heart set on going with us, may we give in, and welcome the Holy Spirit into our lives.

May we rejoice in the ministry of the Holy Spirit, may we rejoice in His presence, here and now.

Judas’ lack of vision

I was given an article this week, a pastor’s comments on the ascension, that troubled me.  The basic concept was the reason the pastor thought Jesus ascended to heaven. He basically said the lesson of the Ascension was that God “trusts” us.  That He left us to finish His work and trusts us to do it. Here’s a quote:  “These were Jesus final marching orders:  ‘Go everywhere you can and be a witness for love.’ And then He left”

Some really bad theology there, for a number of reasons.  But I seem to recall the words a little differently

18  Jesus drew near and said to them, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19  Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, 20  and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (TEV)

It’s that last line, the I will be with you always, that somehow I think the pastor missed.

And I think Judas’ question shows us why.

“Lord,” he says, “How is it that you will reveal your glory to us, but you will assure the world won’t be able to see it?”

I guess all the “light unto the gentiles stuff” and “that the world may know” that seems so much a part of the gospel readings slipped Judas’s mind for the moment.  Even as I think that the mission of making disciples slips our mind occasionally.

Along with some of the other things God would have us do, like loving our neighbor, or feeding the poor, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and forgiving those who have sinned against us.

I pray that God doesn’t just “trust us, and then leave.”  I need, and I believe you need the constant presence of the Comforter, to heal us, to comfort us, to empower and commission us to use the very gifts that the Spirit has invested in us….as we depend on Him

The Miracle of the Holy Spirit’s Ministry

As these two widows, the young Ruth and older Naomi moved to Jerusalem, Ruth took on the role of the provider. She was the one who went out into the fields and worked, she cared for her mother-in-law, even as she promised.

In many ways, this too pictures the relationship of the Holy Spirit with us, nourishing us with the word of God, gathering us to the sacrament,  Jesus prophesies about this work in this way. 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.”

This blessed work of the Holy Spirit, is something we so desperately need in our lives.  For the treasure of the teachings of God are so easily pushed aside as we deal with the challenges in this world.  We need to know God’s love, we know He is with us, we need to explore the depths of His love, and how that love changes us from people outcasts, to being His very children.

We need the Holy Spirit to help us adjust our priorities, to help us keep our focus on God.  We need to be reminded of our baptism – the very place where the Spirit was poured out on us, reviving us and renewing us.  We need the Holy Spirit to grant us repentance, to help us treasure the incredible words of Jesus, the promises made to us by the Son of God.  We need to be reminded that God’s will is that no one should perish, that all would be transformed by God.

Here is how Paul described this work of the Holy Spirit,

27  God’s plan is to make known his secret to his people, this rich and glorious secret which he has for all peoples. And the secret is that Christ is in you, which means that you will share in the glory of God. 28  So we preach Christ to everyone. With all possible wisdom we warn and teach them in order to bring each one into God’s presence as a mature individual in union with Christ. Colossians 1:27-28 (TEV)

In other words – our place, wherever we are, He chooses as His place as well.  And that is what the Holy Spirit teaches us, even as we teach others.

What is that message?

So what is it the Holy Spirit calls us to our minds, that which Christ had taught the disciples?  Jesus said it this way,

“I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.”

And the Father sent His Son to save us, to make us His own people.. and such you are…

For he has done this – He has left us in His peace, He has given us His peace, the comfort the Holy Spirit has made known to us.

Assured of this – we have no need of troubled hearts, nor anxious minds..

For the Spirit reminds us, we dwell with God, we are in Christ, we are welcome here… in His peace.

AMEN.

What Peter didn’t know – we do!

 

Peter Didn’t Know,
but We Do!

Luke 9:28-36

 

May you realize that you walk in the grace, the mercy and peace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, even as we walk in His glory

 

Have you ever observed a situation where you wonder what in the world was that person thinking?  Why in the world did they ever say that? 

Didn’t they realize….. and then you list reason after reason after reason that what they did was idiotic, how in the world couldn’t they have seen, how in the world did they come up with,

Most of us treat Peter that way, wondering how in the world he could manage to put his foot in his mouth so often.  Sometimes he got it wonderfully right, like the time when Jesus asked, “who do you say I am?”.  Or the time he got out of the boat and set the Guiness Book of World Records for longest distance walked on water by someone who wasn’t divine.

Other times, like when he demanded that the Son of God NOT obey the Father and give his life for us, or the time he said, “I will never deny you!”  Or the time he got caught by Paul eating bacon wrapped shrimp with the Gentiles and then telling the Jews it wasn’t kosher!

There were also a few times, where he proved the broken clock theory, where he was right, even when the next second he was wrong.  Oh I want to applaud the words he started with – Lord, it’s wonderful we are here!   So incredible true were those words, but then – how could he follow up with, I know – let’s set up three tents… 

If you’ve ever seen NCIS, that’s a Tony line, one that’s about to get you whapped upside the back of your head!

Build tents?  What was he thinking….even John’s gospel tells us he didn’t know what he was saying…. But the part about it being wonderful that they were there…that is pure truth.

What Peter didn’t know… we do…

What Peter didn’t know/hear –do we hear it?

Peter, like a few other times in the gospels, was sleeping, otherwise he would realize what was truly significant in the event on the top of the mountain.   It wasn’t the revealing of Jesus in all of His glory, as St. John wrote about:

John 1:14 (ESV) 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

That was incredible – and indeed Peter would mention it in his epistle as well:

2 Peter 1:16-18 (NLT) 16 For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes 17 when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” 18 We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.

It’s not even that Moses and Elijah, the two great leaders of the Old Testament, the ones representing the Law and the Prophets, were there.

It is what is talked about among Moses and Elijah and Jesus, while the Peter and James and John are taking a quick nap.  It is the discussion about everything that Moses and Elijah, all the Law, and the Old Testament Histories, the Writings and the Prophets, what all of this pointed to clearly…

The NLT describes it as “his exodus from the world”, that which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem….His being lifted up – the crucifixion, His death

The glory of God revealed, the very thing Jesus was sent to do… it wasn’t about the glory days of Israel, it wasn’t about overcoming the rulers from Rome.

It was about the cross, and death, and realizing how much those three numbskulls who fell asleep needed the grace and mercy that would flow like the wounds that Jesus would bear as he was tried and sentenced and executed, bearing all sin upon himself.

Why it is so wonderful

That is why the Transfiguration was such an event. A few verses after this gospel reading, after a little more teaching, and healing as they rejoined the other disciples, Luke tells us, that as the times approached for him to be lifted up on the cross, he set his face like stone and journey’d toward Jerusalem.

So what does that mean for us?

It is about here (the baptismal font) where Kevin will be linked to that exodus of Jesus, to Jesus death, for as Romans 6 says,

Romans 6:4 (NLT) 4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

Our chance, Kevin’s chance, to get out of this rat race, to escape, not the problems of this world, but the power that sin and the fear of death have over us, that journey out starts here.   As God’s word and the water cleanse him, not just of His sin, but opens up the opportunity to journey with God, in His peace, in His glory, until we arrive home, where we will see Him face to face.

Even so, the dwelling in His glory?  It is not so far off.  Hear Paul’s words from 2 Corinthians,

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NLT) 16 But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 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.

That is what this is all about, what we can comprehend far more than Peter.  That living in the love, and the peace of God, is living in, and sharing in the glory of God. Our journey is alongside His – to the cross, as Chuck says, – the cross where His body is fixed, in our baptism, and the cross where we celebrate His body and blood broken and risen,  as we share in the feast that is a foretaste of the feast to come.

Build three tents?  No!  Having fed on the word, let us celebrate as we witness the promises poured out on another brother! Then let us celebrate as we share in the glorious feast, as we realize we dwell in the presence of God; the merciful, loving presence of the one who would be transformed on a glorious mountain!  As He was encouraged as he set out for another mountain, one even more glorious, where the depth of God’s was revealed, glorious, even as Jesus would be lifted up for us on the cross.

Because of that – know that you dwell in the peace filled presence of God, which is beyond any understanding, in which we dwell safely, our hearts and minds secured there by Christ.

AMEN!

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