Pentecost

Anthony Van Dyck 1599 – 1641  The Descent of the Holy Spirit  1618-1620 Sanssouci, Potsdam

Anthony Van Dyck 1599 – 1641 The Descent of the Holy Spirit 1618-1620 Sanssouci, Potsdam

“Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” Romans 8:26

When there are no words, the Spirit is there.  In the silent tears, the Spirit is there.  In the sob of anguish, the Spirit is there.  In the shouts and the laughter, the Spirit is there.  In the silly play, the Spirit is there.  In the groans of pain, the Spirit is there.  In the angry and stubborn refusal, the Spirit is there.  In the finding of consensus, the Spirit is there.  In the planning and the meeting, the Spirit is there.  In the waiting and the worrying, the Spirit is there.  In the birthing and the feeding, the Spirit is there.  In the mixing and the stirring, the Spirit is there.  In the measuring and the hammering, the Spirit is there.  In the running and the catching, the Spirit is there.  In the greening and the growing, the Spirit is there.  In the handshakes and the embraces, the Spirit is there.  In the business and the schoolyard, the Spirit is there.  In the birthing and the feeding, the Spirit is there.  In the silent stillness of death, the Spirit is there.  In the full tombs and the empty one, the Spirit is there.

Baccalaureate 2009

Promises, Promises

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  Acts 1:8

They could have asked him anything.  You see, by this time in Scripture, Jesus has died and risen again, and was in the presence of those who followed him.  Those faithful disciples–they could have asked him anything.  They could have asked what it was like to be dead.  They could have asked about the mysteries of heaven.  Even I have a few other choice things on my clipboard for Jesus to answer when I get there!

But their mind was still on their own problems.  Picking up the story in Acts chapter 1, verse 6, it says, “…when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Luca della Robbia 1400 – 1482

Luca della Robbia 1400 – 1482

To see the gifts of God, one must first begin by redefining power.  What has more power than a faithful witness to God’s redeeming love?

God of all powers, help us discern and find strength in our unique witness to you.  Amen.

Beyond the Abstract

Sunday’s reading will take us to the second part of Jesus’ words in John chapter 15:

9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

Gods_Love-2

Count the times that you see that keyword, ABIDE.  Now, as the verses unfold, notice how the language shifts from the concept of ABIDING to the idea of LOVE.

How does one abide?  One loves.  Not in theory…in practice.  One loves, every day, every way, every one.  Oh, that  we might abide in Jesus in this way, that lasting fruit may succeed us.

Jesus, gently and powerfully love us, that we might gently and powerfully love one another.  Amen.

The Kingdom in the Vineyard

Kingdom(?) Greetings:  Questions.

Where do we get the energy to move through life with grace?  Where do we get clarity on matters that are important, on life or death, on purpose or goal?  In prayer you likely use The Lord’s Prayer, either in the Assembly or in your private prayer time. There are those phrases about the coming kingdom and the will of God.

Today let’s focus on the Kingdom of God expressing itself here and now, and the Will of God being exercised in our everyday lives. The writer of the Gospel we call “John” describes a tight connection between the Christian, the church, and the Lord.

In John 15:1-11 he portrays a tight connection of the Christian person with the source of grace, life, purpose and kingdom.  The vine he uses as a model is likely grape vine.  Vines intertwine tightly and the branches and twigs grow from the vines in ways that make it hard for the observer to know which vine the branch comes from.  He urges the reader to remembner the connection to the vine, and with that that connection to the other branches and twigs, and then says “abide.”  Hang in there, stay with it, remain.  The flip side of this is that The Lord abides in us, with us, and that especially means with us plural, with the fellowship, the church, the Body of Christ.  The Father abides with us in the manner and with the attitude of Love. 

photograph by Ian Britton

photograph by Ian Britton

How about that for a source of energy to move through life with grace, and with at least the start of clarity regarding important things?  Perhaps we are approaching the Kingdom of God through this vineyard route.  When we and our sisters and brothers are aware of our connection to the vine, when we abide, and when we are open to the love, that God is at work in our midst and in our lives, we are experiencing Kingdom stuff.

Stay connected!

Want to go a little farther? Read 1 John 4, where another person writing in the name and spirit of John, says “We love, because he first loved us.”  That can be sung. 

Peace to all!  Pastor Karl