|Easter 7, Year C||May 29, 2022||Easter 7, Year C||John 17:20-26|
|➤Easter 6, Year C||May 22, 2022||Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year C||John 14:23-29|
|Easter 5, Year C||May 15, 2022||Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C||John 13:31-35, Revelation 21:1-6, Acts 11:1-18|
|Easter 4, Year C||May 8, 2022||Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C||John 10:22-30, Acts 9:36-43, Revelation 7:9-17|
|Easter 3, Year C||May 1, 2022||The Third Sunday of Easter, Year C||John 21:1-19|
|Easter 2, Year C||April 24, 2022||Easter 2, Year C||John 20:19-31|
|Easter Sunday, Year C||April 17, 2022||Easter, Year C||John 20:1-18|
|Good Friday, Year C||April 15, 2022||Good Friday, Year C||John 18:1-19:42|
|Palm Sunday sermon April 10, 2022||April 10, 2022||Palm Sunday||Luke 22:14-23:56|
|Lent 5||April 3, 2022||Lent 5, Year C||John 12:1-8|
|Lent 4, Year C||March 27, 2022||Lent 4, Year C||Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32|
|Lent 3||March 20, 2022||Third Sunday in Lent, 2022||Luke 13:1-9|
|Lent 2||March 13, 2022||Lent 2, Year C||Luke 13:31-35|
|Ash Wednesday, Year C||March 2, 2022||Ash Wednesday, Year C||Genesis, chapter 4|
|Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C||February 27, 2022||Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C||Luke 9:28-36, [37-43a]|
Easter 6, Year C
Sermon Date:May 22, 2022
Scripture: John 14:23-29
Liturgy Calendar: Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year C
In today’s gospel, Jesus knows that the disciples are heading into an awful time which will threaten to destroy their bond with him.
So Jesus tells the disciples that he will give them two gifts that will help them survive the challenges ahead.
Jesus gives us these gifts as well, because Jesus knows that we, too, at some point or another will find ourselves in some uncomfortable, unsettled place in our lives trying to deal with events that leave us troubled, anxious, and overwhelmed. Our faith in God’s goodness may even be shaken.
So we can relate to the disciples in today’s gospel, who are starting to feel worried, because they are becoming more and more aware that Jesus is in great danger, and the likelihood of his death is growing by the day.
Jesus knows that his hour is about to come, that he will be crucified, resurrected, and then he will return to his beloved Father, the One who had sent Jesus to be with us.
So Jesus has an intimate loving conversation with his friends. Although he knows that they cannot be spared what is ahead, he will give them what they need to make it through what will be a shocking and traumatic time for them all, a time that will result in Jesus being gone from them in body forever.
Jesus reminds the disciples that as his followers who keep his word, they already abide in his Father, the one who sent him, and that God abides in them. They already know the deep love of God for them because they know how Jesus loves them.
But then Jesus goes on to add something new to what he has already taught them about abiding in God.
Jesus tells them about the two gifts that Jesus plans to give them that will help them to survive the challenges ahead.
First of all, Jesus tells the disciples that his Father will help them by sending the Holy Spirit to be with them. And the Holy Spirit will help them to remember what Jesus has already taught them, as well as to teach them even more about God with them.
Most of us probably have glue sticks or some sort of glue in our houses. Glue is a binder, holding things together. That’s one of the functions of the Holy Spirit, to bind things together, to help the teachings of Jesus to stick, so that we will remember what Jesus has told us to do as his followers, especially when the challenges come, bringing anxiety and fear.
The Holy Spirit also binds us to God, and also to one another in love.
Our granddaughter Autumn just went to her end of the year preschool picnic last week. The teachers and one of the church pastors gave the children various gifts to use through the summer, to help them to prepare for next year.
So I just have this vision of Jesus in this closing conversation with his disciples. Jesus tells them that they are each going to get a glue stick in the form of the Holy Spirit—to help hold them together, binding them to God, him and to his teachings, and to each other.
Jesus also tells the disciples that he plans to give them his peace, his second gift to them. Now this is not just any peace, like the peace we feel when life is running along smoothly and for a time we aren’t worrying over something.
My oldest daughter gave me this mug years ago. It has taken some abuse, like falling off the top of my car, and getting this chip in it, but even with this damage, it’s still functional and gets a lot of use in our house. The thing I like most about this mug is that it has the word “peace” on it, followed by a helpful definition that gives us a hint of what God’s peace is like.
Peace. “It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”
And we can be calm in our hearts if we remember that the Holy Spirit has bound us to God in love and that God is abiding in us and we are abiding in God.
When life brings us the inevitable anxieties and fear that we all must face, knowing that we really do abide in God helps us to remember that God will give us the strength to deal with what’s ahead.
Jesus says to the disciples that he is telling them all this before he returns to his Father, so that they may believe. Right now, what he is saying to them is academic. They have yet to experience the horrible anxiety and fear that is ahead.
And when the challenges of those last days come, the disciples do forget what Jesus has told them.
The disciples are so anxious when Jesus is arrested that Peter even betrays Jesus out of fear for his own life. After Jesus dies, the disciples are so full of fear that that they lock themselves away because they figured that they’ll be the ones that the authorities will come after next.
Their anxieties and fears take away any memory of what Jesus has told them. So when our anxieties and fear cause us to forget what Jesus has told us and what Jesus promises to give us—the presence of the Holy Spirit and the peace that only Jesus can give, we are in good company, right along with the disciples themselves.
After his resurrection, when the disciples were locked away out of fear, and full of anxiety, Jesus showed up in the locked room with them, in his resurrection body.
Jesus didn’t scold Peter for betraying him. He didn’t scold the rest of the disciples for forgetting his promises to them. He didn’t scold them for locking themselves up out of fear.
Instead, he came to bring them the gifts that he had already promised them, the gifts that they so desperately needed.
Jesus said, “Peace be with you.” And as the disciples realized that Jesus was truly with them, they felt his calm enter their hearts, and joy replaced their fear.
And like any good teacher, Jesus repeated his first words so that his peace would settle even more deeply into the hearts and minds of the disciples.
“Peace be with you.”
And then he sends them out just as God sent him to them in the first place—and the events in today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles tell us about the magnificent results of spirit filled disciples going out into the world, carrying the peace that only God can give, and proclaiming the good news for all.
Then Jesus breathes on the disciples and gives them his greatest gift—the Holy Spirit, the Advocate who will always be with them to remind them of all that Jesus has said to them. Now the words of Jesus will stick with them forever, and they can go out with the strength to deal with all the unknowns ahead.
Jesus promises to give us, his present day disciples, the same two gifts that he gave his friends when their world was falling apart around them and they didn’t know how they’d go on—Jesus promises us his peace and the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives as well.
On Thursday, the church celebrates the Ascension of Jesus to his Father, and then spends the ten days until Pentecost in prayer for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Ben has come up with a prayer leaflet that you can use to guide your prayer for those ten days. The Thy Kingdom Come website has many prayer resources for those ten days.
So let’s pray for the open hearts we need for the Holy Spirit to come yet again into our lives,
for the Holy Spirit will help us to remember the words of Jesus, the Holy Spirit will bind us more closely to God, and the Holy Spirit will help us to live with one another in the peace that Jesus left with us, the peace that can calm our every fear and take away our anxiety and give us the strength we need to carry on.