Due to our live stream failing last week, Sam Clark who preached for us has provided us his sermon text for those who would normally catch up online.
Readings John 14 vv 15:21 1Peter 3 vv 13:2
Some children are especially blessed,they are blessed by good and loving parents –
by parents whose love is like that of God –
by parents who, by the power of their love are spiritually present with their children at all times
– parents who, even when physically absent, leave notes in lunch boxes,signs of love on fridges and blessings upon pillows so that their children may know that they are loved deeply.
I know that when I was a child I really appreciated these things.
Although things have changed a bit as we did not have a fridge, but there were other places that the notes turned up.
But I also know that as a kid I was occasionally grounded, restricted, and cut off from the fullness of the blessings my parents sought to pour outupon me.
And yes, as a five year old being brought back to the house by the police for an incident which I was involve in caused me to hear the words that every young person dreaded.
“Wait till your father gets home”
And then banished to my room without my picture books or comforting toys.
Additional chores would result as a punishment such as bringing in the coal and taking out the ashes. That seemed to continue until I was about 17 years old when I installed heating in the house.
But my parents still loved me when I was grounded, they still loved me deeply,but things did not go quite as well for me as they did when I was not grounded.
And this kind of experience continues on into adult life -into all our relationship of love.
We find that when our love is well expressed in consideration and in respect, in holy humility and in divine giving, that blessings flow abundantly, and we know fully the love we are supposedto know, we know the secret of the universe as it were;
God is as completely revealed to us as he can be this side of heaven.
But when we hold back, when we do not do all that love asks us to do something goes missing inside us -we begin to ache and pain even though the love of our lover is still all around us, still calling out to us, still seeking for us the very best.
What I am saying my friends is simply this – there are spiritual laws at work in the universe
– laws that God works with and which by his mercy operate at all times.
Christ speaks of one of these laws or principles in today’s Gospel reading,a reading which is part of that which is often called his last will and testament because it is the final teaching he gives to his disciples before he is crucified.
As part of that testament he speaks of his final and ultimate gift to all who are a part of God’s family – of his family – the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus tells the disciples the night of his betrayal that if they love him,they will keep his commandments.
And he promises them his Spirit unconditionally – a Spirit that will advocate for them, a Spirit to comfort them, a Spirit to lead them, a Spirit to watch over them.
He promises them that the Spirit of God will live in them.
Jesus also tells his disciples that not everyone will receive the spirit.
He tells them that those in the world, those who love only themselves, those who sneer at holy things and scorn the law of God, cannot receive the receive the Spirit,because they do not know the Spirit, because they do not desire it.
Jesus assures his disciples on the night of his betrayal that they will see him again – that because he lives and will continue to live so will they – and that they will know that he is in the Father and that they are in him and he is in them.
Then he goes on to remind them of what he had said before
In John 15; V21
“Those who accept my Commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. My Father will love those who love me, I to will love them and reveal myself to them.”
A promise and a reminder.
The promise of his eternal and holy presence urging and supporting and comforting us no matter what.
And the reminder that we will see and feel the full glory of that gift when we are in the right space – that space which is the righteous space, the loving space, God calls us to.
Jesus gives us the gift of his eternal love and reminds us of how love works: of how while there is unconditional affection and care there is as well the hope that the love will be returned – so that we, you and I, will know the fullness of the love we are receiving.
Jesus reminds us that love needs to be returned – not just directly, inexpressions of devotedness, but also indirectly, in actions whereby we pass on the love to others.
Jesus makes us promises and he gives to us reminders, reminders that there are
consequences to what we do, wonderful consequences and sometimes not so wonderful consequences.
Reading past verse 21 of today’s gospel reading we find the question
asked of Jesus.
“Lord how can it be that you will reveal yourself to us -and not to the world.”
“Whoever loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and my Father and I will come to him and live with him.”
As adults we know that is what always happens when there is a deep and intimate relationship of love – people move in together, they live together and enjoy themselves together and work together and do many things together – and all of a sudden – because of this relationship there are both inlawsand outlaws to deal with.
Consider the inlaws all the people around you who seek to do God’s will.
Consider the outlaws all those who couldn’t care less about God or you.
Jesus, as our lover, asks us to keep his commandments and to love all of them, both the inlaws and outlaws, as if they were he; he tells us that this is what the life he offers and shares with us is all about, he tells us that when we obey him we will truly see him and know him.
The truth about life is revealed to us by the Spirit of truth that Jesus sends to us from the Father – and that truth is love, – love expressed and shown to others in the way God shows love to us, – a love expressed and shown according to the word sent to us by God from the beginning and incarnated in Christ Jesus our brother and our Lord.
You can’t go wrong by following Christ.
You can only go right.
The apostle Peter suggests to us in verse 15 of today’s epistle reading that the secret of the spiritual life – of the life that gives life – of the life that is worth the living – is found in sanctifying in our hearts Jesus as Lord.
This means pretty much the same as what Jesus meant when he said to the disciples “if you love me you will keep my commandments.”
To sanctify something means to make that thing holy – to make it special — to make it different – to make it wonderful – to dedicate it to the divine purpose – to dedicate it to the divine One- to allow the Spirit to transform it from one degree of glory to another.
Sanctify, in your hearts, Christ as Lord.
Don’t just say I believe in and love Christ – show that love.
Take the time each day to know him, to treat him as a friend, to talk tohim and to make him special to yourselves. Treat his wishes as yourdeepest desire, his every suggestion and hint as your life giving law and your greatest yearning.
To “Sanctify Christ in your heart as Lord” means… – it means to really hold on to him and to hold his word in your awareness,- it means to really listen and then to really do.
It is all so simple a child can get it and do it, and so wonderful and so rich that it gifts all the years of our lives with awe and with power.
All these things the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit have told us sothat we might have the fullness of God’s blessings – that we may know the true glory of love and the eternal joy and strength that life in Him brings.
God is with us – Christ is in us – the Spirit is all around us.
Look and see – love and abide in him – be true and obey him as your Lord – and life will blossom all around you like flowers in the spring and God will be revealed in his fullness to you and to the world around you
Praise be to God, now and forevermore – Amen