John 14.15-21 Pentecost Eve
St John's Ev LC, Victor, IA 2013.5.12
In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Tomorrow / is a Birthday Party. Of course, you are all invited. And why wouldn't you be? It's your party. For tomorrow / is Pentecost, / the Birthday of the Church. You, dearly beloved, are the Church; it's your Birthday Party. But more on that tomorrow.
Tonight / we prepare.
You parents know how it is. A birthday party doesn't just happen, it takes preparation. Invitations are sent out. Balloons, streamers, party hats, cake ingredients all need to be purchased, and (of course) there are the gifts to wrap, the tables and chairs to set up, the food to make, the games to organize, the nerves to calm (take a deep breath), and so much more. // But before all that / before you get to all that obvious, visible stuff like decorating and making food, before you prepare all the stuff that the guests see, / you must do that which the guests do not see, what they aren't supposed to see, what you do want them to notice, because that's the point / of cleaning the house.
Don't worry about the streamers and balloons for tomorrow's party (the Elders are probably on it), don't worry about the food (Pretty sure Christ Himself has that covered), don't worry about any of those obvious, visible things. Your task (for tonight), / is to consider your part in the cleaning of the house.
Or do you not know / that each of you / are a house? But not only a house, / a temple! Yes, for only the grandeur of a temple is suitable for God to dwell in. Or do you not know that God dwells in you, dearly beloved? He does / otherwise you couldn't have faith, you couldn't believe in Him. Besides, this is what Jesus Himself promises (you heard it tonight in the Gospel reading).
Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
There / you see, God dwells in you, dearly beloved, you are a temple of the Lord God Almighty. / So let's get to work.
Dirty. Filthy. Disorganized. Things 'out of place'. Rotting, decaying, rusting garbage. / That's sin. That's your sin. Your sin rots and decays you, your heart and mind are filthy when you let sin dwell there. Stop acting like somehow you are a victim, like you don't have a choice when it comes to sin. To do this would be to deny your Baptism, where God has given you a new foundation, set you straight, thoroughly cleansed and washed you (your soul and your body), the problem isn't ability, the problem is that your lazy, distracted, or indifferent to God's commandments.
It's not a game, you are God's Temple. What a wreck! Why do you allow unholy things into the dwelling place of God? Why do you let His very good creation and His very precious valuables (such as wisdom and patience and peace) / why do you let them get so nasty by misuse or lack of use? Purge the evil from your midst. Clean up: Repent.
Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments...Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
Let love cover a multitude of sins. Let God's love, which is manifest in you in the person of His Son, Jesus, let Divine Love have it's way with you. Let Love cover your multitude of sins. For sin is covered by the blood of Jesus, that most intense act of love, God's death on the cross. And your love flows from that, for we love, only because God, in Christ, first loved us. Let God's love has it's way with you, submit to Christ, receive His love, which is an overflowing kind of love, an abundant love, a sacrificial love. In other words, keep the commandments of God and there show that you have that love which covers the multitude of sins.
The life of righteousness before God, the life of keeping God's commandments, the life of love, is the life that Jesus came to bring; for He who is Life incarnate burst into this world of death. Be perfect, Jesus says in another place, even as your heavenly Father is perfect. And to urge you on in this holy living, this clean living, Christ promises you many great things.
Hear again what Jesus said in the Gospel reading,
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you...Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth”
Promise #1: The Spirit of Truth, that is, the Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself will pray for you, and the Father will send the Spirit to you, to be with you and to dwell in you, forever. And not just any spirit, but the Spirit of Truth. He will lead you into all truth, you will no more be ignorant, but will ever increase more and more / in wisdom, eventually attaining to the very mind of Christ, set free from slavery to a sin-full mind and death-ridden body. Divine Truth sets you free to live.
Jesus goes on, “...he who loves me / will be loved by my Father.”
Promise #2: The love of the Father! Most of us know what it is like to be loved by our imperfect earthly fathers or grandfathers: it's actually pretty great (!), even as imperfect as our earthly fathers are. But what Jesus is promising here is the love of the eternal, heavenly Father. If God is love (which He is), then the Father is the Source, the Beginning, the Epi-center of all love. Imagine all the love that ever was / directed toward you. // Now that's pretty great!
But wait.../ there's more! (As if there is anything greater than this) Jesus hasn't finished making the promises yet. There is yet one more promise. And this one / is actually the best of all, the “best for last”. Jesus said, “he who loves me will be loved by my Father, AND / I will love him / AND / manifest myself to him.”
Jesus loves you by manifesting Himself to you. What does this mean? / This is the question that is answered at the Birthday of the Church. For the Birthday of the Church is made by possible by the coming of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus sends from the Father, the same Spirit of Truth, who will lead you into all truth, especially that truth about the One who is the Truth, Jesus.
To know the truth about the manifestation of Jesus, is to know that which surpasses human understanding. It is impossible for man, for you, / but all things are possible for God. The manifestation of Jesus / is the work of the Holy Spirit, it is life-giving and life-changing, for that truth sets you free to real Life, Divine Life, life in the image and perfection and purity of God.
And (not to give it away before tomorrow, but perhaps just to whet your appetite a bit), dearly beloved, you were made participants in that Divine Life already / at your Baptism.
For this reason, the Church counts it's Birthdays not in years (though, we do recognize the Church's Birthday yearly), but the Church celebrates it's Birthday every time a new member is joined in Baptism. And not only the Church but, as Scripture says, “there is joy [even] [among] the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Repentance / is all the re-baptizing that the Church will ever need. Repentance and amendment of life according to the commandments of God / is always a moment of celebration. Tomorrow / we celebrate. Tonight / we repent, clean house, prepare, and pray with Jesus, that the Helper, the Spirit of Truth, would come among us also.
In the name of +Jesus. Amen.