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Spirited People, Surprising God

(a sermon for June 4, 2017, Pentecost Sunday, based on Acts 2:1-21)

The story goes that in a small village located along a South American border there lived a little boy whose name was Angelo.  And it seems that every morning Angelo crossed the border to the neighboring country and that later on that day, just as regularly, crossed back; but this time always carrying a wheelbarrow full of sand.

Now, Angelo was never questioned as to why he always crossed over in the morning; but as you might imagine, upon his return there was always some level of suspicion on the part of the customs inspector.  “Young man, what are you smuggling in that sand?” he’d always ask, and Angelo’s answer was always the same:  “Nothing… it’s just sand.”  But the inspector was never convinced; so every evening, all of the sand would be poured out of the wheelbarrow and sifted through a screen before Angelo was permitted to go on.

Believe it or not, this went on, pretty much day in and day out, for the better part of five years (!); every time the same: the customs inspector interrogating young Angelo before sifting through the sand in his wheelbarrow.  And they never, ever found anything!  But the inspector would always explain himself by saying, “I know that someday if we’re careless, that’s when he’ll smuggle something across.”  And that’s how it went; every day Angelo appearing at the border crossing with a wheelbarrow full of sand and every day the customs people pouring and sifting through the sand before letting him pass… until finally, one day it just stopped.

Well, as the story goes, years later the inspector, now long since retired, met Angelo – now long since grown up – on the street.  Angelo was now well known in the village as one who had prospered; he’d opened a thriving business and bought a big home in the tiny village. And so of course, the inspector was still more than a little suspicious; and so he asked him point blank: “Look, I have to know; how could you have possibly become so wealthy when you spent so much of your time as a youth hauling worthless sand across the border?”   Angelo just smiled and replied, “You see, my friend, during all those times when you paying so much attention to the sand, I was smuggling 1,593 wheelbarrows into the country!”

Now, I’ve heard that story told in a variety of ways so I can’t vouch for the veracity of it; but I do know that as a parable it points up an important truth of human life: namely, that we are often so accustomed to seeing things in a certain way that we fail to see what’s really there before us!   The fact is, life is full of easy misconceptions and surprising revelations; it’s only as we go along – or at least hopefully so (!) – that we are apt to discover that there are a whole lot of things in this life that are much more than what they seem!

How many of us, for instance, have encountered someone in our lives who we more or less “wrote off” as being somehow less than what they eventually turned out to be?  I’ve been thinking about this lately as the 40th anniversary of my high school graduation approaches: thanks to the miracle of social media and the planning of a  class reunion, I’ve been getting little bits and pieces of what’s become of some of my classmates, and it’s been fascinating; in the sense that all these people that back then we (myself included!) so blithely pigeon-holed as perennial athletes and cheerleaders, popular and outcast, winners and losers (!) have gone on to have these full, rich and meaningful lives that tell stories that I couldn’t even have imagined back in the day!  It’s been interesting (and a bit humbling!) finding these things out, and a wonderful reminder of how if we get beyond all of our surface impressions of one another, we might just discover something far deeper and greater that we could ever have possibly seen before.  The point is by only seeing people, things or events in a limited way we end up missing the whole, glorious picture!

And isn’t it true that this is so often how we approach God as well?

Ask a child, for instance, to draw a picture of God sometime and odds are good that he or she will create some kind of image of a saintly Santa Claus without the red trim or the reindeer; a long white beard to match a long white robe.   And even as adults, in what I pray is a more inclusive time, when we think about God we still tend to fall back on those familiar images of “the man upstairs,” of a father in heaven with the face of, depending on our generation, a Charlton Heston, George Burns or Morgan Freeman!  Ours is the God of the booming voice, the roaring thunder and crashing sea; ours is the God of star-filled skies and dew-drenched mornings; God for us is what’s out there and what’s inside here… all of which is true, but none of which tells the whole story.  There’s always more to God, you see, than what there seems!

The truth is that we grow so accustomed to thinking of God in a certain way or to looking for God in a certain form that we risk being caught off guard when God in all of God’s creativity and power is revealed!  And this is what lay at the heart of this day of Pentecost: the proclamation that God is ever and always “doing a new thing;” that God will come to us unexpectedly and in ways that may not always be recognized as coming from God!

One of the first things that’s clear from our text this morning is that as the disciples were gathered together “in one place” on that morning of Pentecost they still had no idea that God was coming to them in the way that God did.  Certainly, they knew something was going to happen; after all, as we’ve been talking about here over the past couple of weeks, Jesus himself had promised them a Spirit to guide them: an Advocate to teach them, bring them comfort and to empower them for the way ahead.  But you see, like all of us they too had their preconceptions; ways of relating to God that were familiar and patterned (which is actually pretty amazing when you think about it, especially given all they’d been through with Jesus!).

So even now there was no way for their being fully prepared for the Spirit’s coming to be like the rush of a mighty wind [that] filled the house where they were sitting,” nor could they have anticipated “tongues, as of fire,” appearing among them and resting on each one of them; indeed, in their wildest imagination they could not have possibly conceived the idea that everyone on the streets of Jerusalem would be hearing good news of “God’s deeds of power” each in their own language.  Understand that these were people for whom dreams and visions were little more than the faded, hopeful memories of generations long past; and yet now, here was Peter speaking boldly the words of the prophet Joel:  “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.”

Even some 2,000 years later, we who are the church still wrestle with the wonder and the mystery of what happened that day on the streets of Jerusalem.  But whatever else we still can’t comprehend, one thing is for certain: this was not the act of a predictable, categorical God, but rather a surprising God who refuses to be limited by the human mind and heart.

In the words of John Macintyre, the day of Pentecost is “the wholehearted expression of the almost unlimited imagination of God.”  Isn’t that great?  Today, as the church we celebrate no less than the triumph of God’s Holy Spirit over all the vast differences of language, race, gender, class and culture that exist in our world, but moreover the triumph over all the limitations that we of this world have placed on who God is and who we are in relationship to God.   Our God is the God who speaks all the languages of the human heart; who comes to us in the midst of the pains of life as well as its pleasures; who exists in the mighty winds that occasionally rush through our lives and living, but who also is palpable in the gentle breezes that whisper in and through each day.  The miracle of Pentecost is that when God’s Spirit moves, each one of us will hear God speak in our own language, be that language one of love and joy and laughter, or one that offers comfort in the midst of grief and pain.

And it’s a miracle that continues to be revealed… as God’s Spirit is still poured out on us in unique and powerful ways; we are, by definition and by the grace of God, a “spirited people,” a covenant community of faith.  This is one reason that the day of Pentecost is often referred to as the “birthday” of the church, because we are the recipients of God’s Spirit, and as such the carriers of God’s good news, as well as the purveyors of dreams and visions for a world in need of both.  As the church, we are literally and spiritually “moved” to participate in the promised kingdom that’s to come, working in love, faith and stewardship unto the ever-widening purposes of God in our life and living.

I guess the question before us today is whether or not we truly believe that.

I suppose our answer to that question comes down to whether dreaming dreams and having visions is something that for us was “once upon a time” when our idealism matched up with our hope, but which has now faded away with age and the disillusionment that life sometimes brings; or whether we can still say today that what we’re doing for ourselves, our families, our communities and our world is what we know in faith God will someday bring in fullness, just as He has promised.  The answer comes down to whether we set ourselves forth as a church that is wholly “spirited,” enthusiastically alive and well, serving people and being witnesses to the risen Christ in everything we say and do, truly living out of  our prayer, “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:10)

Do we believe this, friends?   Are we ready to embrace a surprising, unpredictable and limitless God for our own lives and living?  Are we ready to dream dreams and have visions for the future; for God’s future?

If we are, then we should also know that we have placed ourselves in the midst of a life where amazing things can and do happen in and through our lives and the life of the church in which we are gathered together!  Of course, such a life tends to be unpredictable, shaking up regular routines and more than occasionally challenging valued traditions along the way; but then again, that’s also the incredible wonder and the transformative power of the Holy Spirit; and why wouldn’t we want to be a part of that?

After all, what is it that Ralph Waldo Emerson said?  “The power of the Gulf Stream will flow through a straw if the straw be placed parallel to the Gulf Stream.”   Such is the power that works through us as we open ourselves to God’s own leading.

Oh, come Holy Spirit, come!  Come and blow your mighty winds through us today.

Amen and AMEN!

c. 2017  Rev. Michael W. Lowry

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2017 in Church, Holy Spirit, Pentecost, Sermon

 

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The People of What Happens Next

(a sermon for May 28, 2017, the 7th Sunday of Easter, based on Acts 1:1-14)

Actually, for me the whole scene has the look and the feel of a high school or college graduation!

To begin with, this story of Jesus’ ascension into heaven represents the last gathering of Jesus with his disciples and marks the end of a long and remarkable journey: from the shores of Galilee where this disparate group of fishermen, tax collectors and societal outcasts first heard Jesus’ call, through the agonies of the cross, to the empty tomb and beyond; indeed, we’re told that in the forty days just past Jesus had “presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them… and speaking about the kingdom of God.”  But that was all coming to an end, and now as “they were together for the last time,” (The Message) Jesus is giving these disciples some last minute instructions for the way ahead:  “on no account” should you leave Jerusalem, but instead you “‘must wait for what the Father promised: the promise you heard from me.’” Soon, and very soon, you see, “you will be baptized by the Holy Spirit!”

See what I mean here?  Just as in any kind of graduation ceremony there’s a definite sense of closure, but there’s also this baffling and rather disconcerting reference to the mysterious future that is just about to unfold!  I remember very well my own graduation from Bangor Seminary; in particular the moment when our seminary president, the Rev. Dr. Wayne Glick, stood at the podium and informed us in his rich, Appalachian drawl, “You people think you have learned all you need to know here at the seminary… well, I am here to tell you that the learning has just begun!”  What?  You mean to say that our full three years of engaging in intense biblical study, all that wrestling with theological conundrums both old and new, to say nothing of all of the “on the job training” for any and all pastoral challenges that we faced as student pastors wasn’t going to be enough?  To employ the language of the Old Testament, “Oy Vey!”

But you see, that’s the nature of these kinds of moments, isn’t it? You’ve reached this very important place in your life’s journey when everything has rightly seemed to come into focus, and yet – I dare say even for those whose pathway seems solidly set before them – there is an uncertainty about it all that is both unsettling and even at times terrifying!

And so it is for the disciples; especially after they ask Jesus, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” and Jesus answers, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.” Can you even imagine what the eleven of them had to have been thinking at this point?  Jesus, we’ve come all this way and have experienced so much; to the point where the kingdom is in our very grasp and now you won’t even tell us when it’s going to happen?  Nope… as The Message translates it, “You don’t get to know the time.  Timing is the Father’s business.”

Oy Vey, indeed!  This was obviously not the answer they were looking for; they’d figured that now that the resurrection had happened everything else – for the world and for them – would most certainly fall into place.  But now they find out that their journey goes on, that the way ahead is just about as uncertain as it was before, and the Kingdom… well, the Kingdom will come when the Kingdom will come, and that’s all you really get to know right now!

But, Jesus goes on to say, even though you don’t get to know what happens next, “what you’ll get is the Holy Spirit.”  “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.”  Power:  in the Greek, dunamis, meaning dynamic, dynamo or even dynamite; Witnesses: from the Greek word marturos, from where we get our word martyr!  So, in other words, what Jesus says to them – the very last thing that Jesus says to them, by the way (!) – is that the way ahead for you is still uncertain, but that the Holy Spirit, which God has promised to give you, will provide you with the power, the dynamic, if you will, to keep on the journey ahead and to be my witnesses even when that way ahead proves to be very difficult; but moreover to do so with a clear sense of purpose and with joy!  You are being called to go “all in;” to live wholly and completely unto your faith, bearing witness to God’s enduring presence wherever you are and in whatever comes. What happens next?  In many ways, you are the people of what happens next!

And with that said, Jesus ascended into heaven.

“As they were watching,” Luke writes, “he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.”  Just like that.  It’s no wonder that apparently, the disciples spent a long time “staring up into the empty sky;” also no wonder that it took two men “in white robes” to stir them out of their reverie, saying, “why do you stand looking up toward heaven?” This Jesus, “who was just taken from among you to heaven will come as certainly – and mysteriously – as he left.”   The message was clear:  the time for standing around was over; there would be a moment when Jesus would return, but for now the next part of the journey – this immense, mysterious and seemingly improbable journey – was just beginning.

I love what  Barbara Brown Taylor has written about this; it comes from her book Gospel Medicine and she says that “no one standing around watching them that day could have guessed what an astounding thing happened when they all stopped  looking into the sky and looked at each other instead.   But in the days and years to come it would become very apparent… with nothing but a promise and a prayer, those eleven people consented to become the church and nothing was ever the same again, beginning with them.  The followers became leaders, the listeners became preachers, the converts became missionaries, the healed became healers.  The disciples became apostles, witnesses of the risen Lord by the power of the Holy Spirit… [and] surprising things began to happen.  They began to say things that sounded like him, and they began to do things they had never seen anyone but him do before.  They became,” concludes Taylor, believers who were “brave and capable and wise.”

They became the church… they were formed into a gathered community of people bound by a common mission and a shared calling, to witness unto the resurrection of Jesus Christ; beginning in those times and situations where perhaps only two or more are gathered, but then maybe throughout Jerusalem, and then Judea and Samaria, and then… who knows, even “to the ends of the earth.”  It’s a mission that has endured throughout the centuries…

… and it is the same calling that is extended and continues in you and in me today.

That’s right… lest we forget in these days of confused situations: this story of Jesus’ ascension into heaven; this story of this time that exists between “the now” of the world as we currently know it, and the “not yet” of the world as it is promised it will someday be?  It’s our story just as much as it was theirs; and as the church, you see, as the church of this generation, we are “the people of what happens next.”

You see, in every generation the question has always been the same:  when is the church truly being the church of Jesus Christ?  How that question gets answered and the ways that faith is expressed most certainly has grown and adapted over the course of those generations and in keeping with changing times and new challenges.  But ultimately, the answer to that question – when is the church truly being the church – has never changed; we are the church when we are living wholly and completely as witnesses of the Risen Christ!

We are the church when we speak boldly of the truth of Jesus’ teachings (by our words, if necessary, but much more importantly by our example) unto people and unto a world that is hurting profusely and is desperate for love, and for justice, and for a peace that the world cannot provide.  We are the church when we make the commitment to not be passive about moving into the future, letting ourselves become diminished by whatever the world’s latest set of priorities happen to be; but rather to let the power of God’s own Holy Spirit be our own dynamic as persons and as a people, so that we might truly be part and parcel of “what happens next” for the sake of God’s Kingdom within us and all around us, starting right here on Mountain Road, in Concord and New Hampshire, and even “to the ends of the earth.”

And don’t misunderstand me here; for us to be an effective “witness” is not measured by the size or the scope of the effort; but rather by its sincerity and the depth of its love.

Many years ago – I think it was that same summer I graduated from seminary – I was actually on vacation and got a call on a Sunday afternoon from a member of the church where I had been serving as a student, and now newly ordained, pastor.  “I just wanted to tell you what happened this morning, so you didn’t hear about it via the grapevine,” she said, and went on to tell me how one of the older women of the church had suffered a stroke during that morning’s worship service.  Apparently, they’d just finished singing the middle hymn (which at that church was sung just before the sermon), and though everyone else had sat down, “Edna” remained standing, unresponsive to those in the pew next to her.

Now understand that under ordinary circumstances this was a small congregation, but in mid-August, and while the pastor was away, it was downright cozy!   So there was no way this was going to happen quietly or unobtrusively; and of course, everyone immediately gathered around Edna. The worship leader that day, as I recall, was a lay preacher from our association name Leona, and even she put aside her sermon notes and she also came down from the altar to see what she could do to help.

As it was described to me, everybody had a job.  One of the women was a retired nurse, so she started checking vital signs.  Another quickly went to the kitchen to bring in some cold water, while still another rushed to the phone to call an ambulance. One of the men went out to the head of the church driveway to flag down the EMT unit when it arrived.  As for the rest of the congregation, they either prayed quietly or held hands with others as they prayed.   Soon enough, the ambulance came and the paramedics did their work, but even the folks of the congregation waited and watched as they took Edna back to the hospital for a full examination; with a couple of them going along for emotional support.

And after the ambulance had left, the members of the congregation going back to their pews, one of the Deacons of that church (as I recall, he was always a Deacon of that church!), turned to Leona and said, “Well, Madam Pastor, I guess you can preach that sermon now.”  And with incredible wisdom, Leona just smiled and said, “I think you folks already did.”

It’s a scene that as a church pastor I’ve seen repeated time and time again over the years; I’ve seen it happen here at East Church and with you in a whole variety of wonderful, life-giving, gospel proclaiming ways!

Beloved, we are, each and every one of us here, called to be witnesses to the Risen Christ and a living testimony to the Kingdom of God taking root and flourishing in our midst. What we do here in this place, and also what we do out there, serves to proclaim the ways that faith informs and directs what, for the sake of our faith, we intend for one another, for our families and friends, for our community and for our world.  We are the people of what happens next by the grace of God in Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit working within us.

And so let us be bold in our witness; let us truly go “all in” for what we know is true.  Let the good news be heard and seen… in us.

May God in Christ bless our witness, and may our thanks for all things be unto God.

AMEN and AMEN!

c. 2017  Rev. Michael W. Lowry

 

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An Advocate for the Way

(a sermon for May 21, 2017, the 6th Sunday of Easter, based on John 14:15-27)

It might be the worst feeling of any we experience in this life: to suddenly realize you are completely, utterly and helplessly… alone.

Most of us, I suspect, can name times when it certainly felt that way to us: maybe in those first few awful days living away from home and family for the very first time, and thinking that feeling of homesickness would never go away; or perhaps in moments of overwhelming grief and loneliness after a loved one has passed away; or more than likely, at some point amidst some “bump in the road” in life when we’re absolutely certain that absolutely no one else could ever know or understand what we’re going through!  It’s a horrible feeling, to be sure; but thanks be to God (and also that friend who reaches out with a phone call or a casserole), that feeling of aloneness eventually passes

But what if it doesn’t?

Think, for instance, of those who struggle through issues such as financial trauma, job loss, physical illness or mental and emotional health, domestic violence, broken relationships and so much more I could name here; to go through all that, and yet have nowhere to turn in the midst of it all and to have no one who will stand with them in their struggle!  Or consider the children, some who live in our own community, who have been left to their own devices because of abuse and neglect, and very poor choices on the part of their families.  Or how about those people we all know who go through each and every day and every circumstance of their lives believing that they are somehow unworthy of love and thus utterly unlovable; who have come to see themselves as alone, lonely and forever isolated in the world; where they even come to believe that God has abandoned them?

To be alone like that might well be the worst possible thing to ever happen to us in this life; in the words of Bob Dylan, “to be on your own… a complete unknown… with no direction home?” (I’ll spare you my Dylan impression here!)  And so isn’t it amazing then, that during that time we’ve come to know as “the night of betrayal and desertion,” our Maundy Thursday, those moments literally just a few short hours before his own crucifixion, Jesus gives to his disciples and to us a promise: “I will not leave you orphaned.”   Or, depending on particular translation of scripture you might employ, “I will not leave you comfortless… abandoned… bereft… desolate… or alone.”  No matter how you read the verse, it’s an astounding promise:  I will not leave you alone; “I am coming to you.  In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live.”

Our text for this morning comes from the portion of John’s gospel that is known as “The Farewell Discourses,” which represent the conversation that took place at the table in the upper room during the last supper on the night of Jesus’ betrayal.  It encompasses four full chapters of John, and one definitely gets the feeling that Jesus, fully aware of what was about to transpire, wanted to say as much as he possibly could to the disciples in the time he had left.  This is also, arguably, one of the most deeply theological passages of the gospels; in fact, as the last of the four gospels written (probably 60 years after the resurrection!), it’s clear that John sought for the early church to be able to put all of the events and teachings emanating from Jesus’ life, death and resurrection in its proper context; all of which is simply to remind us that Jesus’ words here are meant as much for you and me as they were for the disciples.

For you see, Jesus understood – most especially on this fateful night – that faith can often have a very short memory.  Life can seem to have more than its share of struggles; troubles mount to the point of becoming overwhelming, and in the process the strength that comes in believing will inevitably begin to fall away. Jesus knew – and so do we – that it is all too easy for us in this world to feel as though we are all alone; even when the truth is that we never were alone at all.  As the agonizing hours leading up to the cross would prove, when things are at their worst even the most devoted of disciples can scatter, or worst of all, begin to deny that which they’ve always known in their heart of hearts to be true.  So the question becomes, when our backs are against the wall and our memory of the divine around us and within us becomes faulty, how will we remember?  How will we live faithfully in the midst of all the uncertainties of that life; to, as Jesus tells us, to “love [him]… and keep [his] commandments?”  How are we to know what that even means moving forward; so that we won’t feel abandoned and alone in this difficult and often cruel world?

And therein comes that incredible promise: for to all these questions and so many more that we ask, Jesus answers that he will not leave us alone; but that he will “ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.”  An advocate… in the Greek, “Paraclete,” another biblical word that gets translated in a variety of ways: like as a “counselor” or “helper,” a “comforter,” “teacher,”  “friend.” …and Spirit.  The Spirit of truth, says Jesus, who will abide with us and will be in us; who will remind us again and again, even in those times when it will seem as though we’ve long forgotten, of just who and whose we are; and never, ever alone on the way.

This, beloved, was the promise that would serve to sustain those disciples as they moved from the despair of the cross to the glory of resurrection and beyond to the unfolding of their “Great Commission;” and it is the promise that remains our on-going word of hope as we move forward with our own lives today.  The Rev. Dr. Anna Hosemann-Butler, a Methodist pastor and writer out of Texas, describes this hope very well: in these few words from John’s gospel, she writes, “we seem to have the sum total of how to claim a full life in the face of the fear, terror, panic, isolation, loss, and grief that comes simply from living, that comes simply by the very nature of or existence in this world.”  In Jesus’ promise of a Spirit of truth – this “Advocate for the Way” – we will discover “what it means to live faithfully in the midst of life,” meeting every joy, every sorrow and every challenge that comes our way “with full assurance that we are loved [by God], no matter what,” and that because of this love, which is unceasing, “we are never alone, no matter what.”

This is not to say, of course, that by virtue of this Advocate/Spirit, those answers we seek for the way ahead come to us instantaneously and with utmost clarity; indeed, I think we all realize that there are far too many grey areas in this life for that to happen!  But even then, you’ll notice that Jesus is clear about faithfulness will come about, and it’s two-fold:  first, that “if you love me, you will keep my commandments;” and second, that “the Advocate, the Holy Spirit… will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you.”  In other words, to love the Lord is to love his word and to keep his word; and that will make all the difference in what follows.  Or, if I might borrow the words of one David Sellery: “Fill your heart with [God’s] love, and there will be no room for hate.  Fill your day with [God’s] love and there will be no time for mischief.”  But… even if along the way you forget what this love entails, or if it happens that this love may require a broader view of things (or perhaps more to the point a change in our view of things!), here comes the Advocate to teach us everything; to open our minds and our hearts to God’s presence, God’s intent and purpose for our lives, and above all, to bring us a deeper awareness of God’s great and redeeming love, which brings to us not only a fresh understanding of everything that Jesus has said to us, but also in the process offers us a peace that the world, for all of its supposed wisdom, cannot provide!

In that regard, isn’t it interesting there always seems to be this connection between the responsibilities of discipleship and this divine peace?  I’m reminded here of the story of Brother Lawrence, an early 17th century brother in a monastery in France, famous for his collection of writings on the subject of  “practicing the presence of God” even in the midst of his most routine daily tasks in the monastery;  things like baking, doing dishes and cleaning floors.  Lawrence saw each one of these tasks as a prayer unto the Lord; moreover as a means of developing “the habit of unbroken conversation with God without any artificiality” and thus discerning the good and proper pathway for his life.  In this unbroken communion with God, Lawrence concluded, we are “continually absorbed in praising, worshipping and loving God for his infinite acts of loving-kindness and perfection.”

As a spiritual discipline, it’s a beautiful thing (though I have to confess that I probably wouldn’t be very good at it; I’d likely be far more focused on the inner reflection rather than on the immediate task of getting all the pots and pans clean!).  Brother Lawrence’s example serves to remind us that true faith is not so much going to be found in the rush of warm, fuzzy feelings that’ll come to us at the very thought of God, but rather faith will be revealed in the manner of life and living that God’s presence has inspired in us!  Indeed, we are the people of a legacy, left by Jesus himself: we are called as disciples to continue loving our neighbor as ourselves; to see our brother and sister as God sees them and sees as all; and to live out of what we know of Jesus both in word and in deed.

Granted, for us to truly embody that kind of love in the world is at best a challenging thing; sometimes it’s even a risky proposition, given the climate of that world these days; frankly, these are times in which it simply seems much easier and safer to just keep silent than it is to act boldly for the sake what we believe.   But that is why we have an advocate for the way; a Spirit of God’s own singular truth to keep us “on task” and make us ever aware that in divine love, we keep Christ’s commandments; and as we do so, God is loving us and making a home with us; that we might never, ever be alone… in this life and the life that is to come

It is no wonder that as Jesus himself can say to us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”

So let us walk and live in faith; and as we do, may our thanks be to God.

Amen and AMEN!

c. 2017  Rev. Michael W. Lowry

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2017 in Holy Spirit, Jesus, Sermon

 

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