Tuesday, May 31, 2011

We Are Not Orphaned!

This week I had some friends come over to hang out.
We were talking and having a good time.
We started to talk about the Trinity (It is normal in a pastor’s house to talk about the Trinity around the dining room table with friends) and almost at once all of them including my wife said that their favorite part of the Trinity was the Holy Spirit.
I was really surprised because Lutherans are notorious for not talking about the Holy Spirit.
And yet here were all these Lutherans saying that the Holy Spirit was their favorite.
When I asked my wife why she liked the Holy Spirit so much she said that it was because, “It is the easiest to see. We see it in action every day. We see it working in and through people.”
The more I thought about it the more I realized what a good point they were making.
The Holy Spirit is what we experience every time someone does something extraordinary in an ordinary situation.
It is what makes people believe in God even when all seems lost.
(Maybe it is what kept me believing that the Red Sox would get better this season.)
It is what helps us to do the right thing even when we would rather not.
It is what makes ordinary people express an extraordinary love.

My cousin this week on his Facebook page posted a video of an ABC show called, “What Would You Do”.

It was one of those shows were they put actors in a common place and then have them do something bad to see how people would react.
On this show they had two actresses play a lesbian couple with kids; go to Norma’s CafĂ© in Farmer’s Branch Texas.
Then they had an actress playing a waitress berate them for being gay and refuse to serve them.
One of the people in the restaurant pulls the waitress aside and says, “Do you know Jesus?”
Then he tells her not to judge just as Jesus would not judge.
When the waitress will not stop the man leaves the restaurant and then returns with a note to the two women that says:

Dear Friends,
I know it doesn’t mean much but I wanted you to know that I love you all.
You have a beautiful family and I pray that one person’s judgmental intolerance does not in any way put a damper on your hearts or minds.
In the words of MLK Jr. “In the end we remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.” -Donavan
The actresses were so touched they started to cry.

These are Moments when the Holy Spirit is at work.
The Holy Spirit is moving among and through us, keeping us close to the commandments that Jesus taught us.
The Holy Spirit helps us to act with compassion and love.
But the Holy Spirit does even more than this.
In the Gospel from John this morning Jesus is about to die, and he is trying to comfort the disciples who will have to go on without him.
So he tells them that he “will not leave them orphaned.”
That he will send the Holy Spirit to be with them.
The Holy Spirit is partially our reminder of the compassion that Jesus taught us.
The Holy Spirit is also our support in the midst of trouble.
And we need that because when trouble comes it often knocks us out of our comfort zones and makes us disoriented.

In Joplin Missouri we all saw the devastation of the tornadoes.
The town was devastated so much so that people in the town could no longer find their way around.
Without the landmarks of the doughnut shop, elks club, and thrift store people are having a hard time navigating around time.
For example Mr. Woolston who lived in Joplin his whole life.
This is what he says about finding his way around Joplin after the tornadoes, “Particularly at night, but also during the daytime, areas that you’ve gone through thousands of times — you just don’t recognize,”
“I have to stop and get my bearings to realize where I am at, simply because everything is just completely altered.”
This is how we often feel after a disaster in our lives.
We feel disorientated like the world doesn’t make sense anymore.
We feel that everything has been altered and we can’t seem to get our bearings.
Jesus knew that is how the disciples would feel during and after the crucifixion.
Jesus knew they would need support admits their struggles.
So Jesus told them that he would send the Spirit to come along side them in those struggles.
The Holy Spirit would remind them that they are not alone.
It would remind them what Jesus said and taught them.
It would give them strength in difficult times.
It would help them to keep their bearings so they could still navigate the world they lived in.

Today the Holy Spirit does the same for us.
When you are disorientated and don’t know the way anymore it is the Spirit that comes and puts you back on track.
When you are moved to stand up for someone else who is being torn down it is the Spirit that is there.
When you act out of love it is the Spirit moving you.

I see the Spirit moving all the time in this congregation.
I feel that the Spirit is supporting us in our mission to spread the love of Jesus Christ.
I feel that the Spirit is really moving and alive all the time.

For example, one of our member’s mom died two weeks ago.
I had talked to Kate at our annual Meatball dinner and she was sharing how bad her mom was doing at this point she didn’t know that her mom was dying.
The next morning before worship I was praying for Kate and something made me write her a letter that I intended to send to her that week.
It was a weird thing because I am not really a letter writer I just felt that Kate would need some words of encouragement during this difficult time.
Anyway, I put the letter on my desk intending to mail it on Monday.
After worship when Kate told me that her mom was dying and she was flying to see her that day I took out the letter from my desk and gave it to her.
I told her that the Holy Spirit must have been working because just that morning something told me that she might need some encouragement.

The Holy Spirit is working all the time.
Jesus sends us the Holy Spirit so we can remain close to him.
Jesus sends the Holy Spirit so we can be supported, and we can love one another.
Jesus knew that we would need this in our faith journey and sent it so we don’t feel orphaned.
Perhaps we should start talking about the Holy Spirit more.
We should share those moments when the Holy Spirit moves over and through us to know God is near.

People in our world today know the Holy Spirit real well.
In most studies about religion more and more people are saying that they are spiritual and not religious.
A recent study found that 18 percent of people 18-39 identified themselves as spiritual and not religious.
In 2008 just a couple of years ago only 11% said the same thing.
What they are expressing is exactly what we are talking about this morning.
That Jesus will not leave us orphaned.
Even if we are to reject the structure of the church Jesus still wants to know us to know him, and so the Holy Spirit is at work all the time in many people’s lives even outside the church.
What we offer here is to help people remember this very truth.
Look it is hard for the other six days of the week not to get disorientated,
It is hard to remember that the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives.
We come together to remember that the Holy Spirit is there to support us and come along with us in our lives.

And so as we go back into our lives for the other six days of our week let us remember that Jesus did not leave us orphaned but gave us an advocate to be with us always and that helps us to get our bearings, helps us to love one another, and supports us when things seem hard.


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