Those Will Be Loved

May 25th 2014, John 14: 15-21

By Pastor Tim Woodard

          Today is a very special day as we have our visitor, Pastor Winston among us, helping us to worship our God, there by honoring the traditions this congregations has put in place.  We thank Winston for helping us to better understand his traditions that he has brought with him from his home in Kitwe Zambia.  We do this in the presence of God and as a part of our time of worship simply because we believe that our understanding of God transcends all traditions and is thus bestowed upon all peoples. We have the right to worship through Christ, freely this morning, simply because of the commitment, sacrifice and courage of those who have stood up and testified to love God openly and freely in good times and in bad times.  We therefore, thank you Winston for sharing with us and being a part of our time of worship this morning.  And we pray that this is one of those good times.

 

As we turn to our scripture lesson we shall be reminded of the importance of our celebrating our love of God – just as we are reminded to honor those past and present who have witnessed to God’s love and power in their lives – just as Pastor Winston’s presence here proclaims!  God also, expects us to honor and obey and God expects us to speak the truth at all times and in all our affairs and in all of our relationships.  To Love, To Honor and To Obey, and To Seek the Truth as-well-as Speak It, are not just reserved for those that serve in the Boy Scouts of America.  With these thoughts in our minds and in our hearts let us turn to the words of Jesus.

 

Jesus is talking about the “Spirit of Truth!”

 

How many of us have simply skimmed over this and moved on without really grasping what Jesus was saying?  It is important to understand that Jesus was referring to the coming Advocate, and that He was asking His Heavenly Father to send this Advocate to us and to be with us forever.  In today’s scripture passage Jesus calls this “The Spirit of Truth.”  Now why has he done this, that is why has He named the Spirit this way and what does this mean?  The more I though of this the more I realized, as I pondered how Jesus often hid the truth in plain sight, that the meaning is quite obvious and really needs little explanation.  The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that is sent to the followers on the day of Pentecost, and to all who receive and are baptized in Christ, is all about truth.

 

Truth; Yup, that’s all there is to it.

 

Jesus asked his Heavenly Father to give us a companion that would be with us always, and that companion was to be our Advocate, that is to say This Spirit would look after us; stand up for us, protect us and give us what we need.  The truth is clearly something Jesus felt we ought to keep close at hand and rely upon fully.

 

As we look more deeply into this short scripture lesson, and as we keep in mind this simple understanding surrounding Jesus wanting us to be supported with the truth, then we must also see what else Jesus said.  Looking and reading carefully, we will read and see that Jesus also said how “the world cannot receive the Spirit of Truth because they neither see nor know the truth”.  Strong words, holy words really.  You see: those that do not hold the Son of God close to their heart – and take all the teachings that Jesus offers to them – into their daily life, then they, they are not to know the Spirit of Truth.

 

Straightforward and simple “If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” says Jesus.  By so doing, those that do so, that is: they, hopefully… we… shall come to know “The Spirit of Truth, The Advocate, our Living God, and through that knowing “Those – will be loved, those will be ‘fully’ loved by God!

 

This passage is meant to be more than simply a directive; it is also meant to be a comfort to the followers of Jesus.  Also occurring at this time – was that the disciples – the followers of Jesus, were hearing Him tell them that He was leaving them and they: like all of us were not very fond of the prospect of facing life alone!  Without Jesus those early disciples knew what awaited them and they would once again need “to rely on their own resources and their own wits.”  Who among us does not want someone stronger and better equipped than ourselves to lead us through the maze?  Yes, the maze of life with all its twists and turns.  A little reassurance from someone we rely heavily upon is always well received. /Weekly Seeds UCC May 29, 2011/

 

When I served our country during the Viet Nam war I was stationed in Thailand.  I have many memories of those three hundred and sixty five days that I was there.  I remember clearly that our base was there to support with ‘Air Power’ the troops that were in Viet Nam fighting along side our South Vietnam brothers and sisters.  I can still see the bullet holes in the wings and structure of the aircraft that came back after making a run.  I can still see the eyes of the personnel of those aircraft when I came in contact with them throughout the base.  I had a deep sense that they had experienced and seen things that I was fortunate to not have seen and done.

 

I honored them as best I could.

 

I worked hard to be sure that the communications equipment I was responsible for was kept in working order.

 

I prayed that war would not come to our base as it had to the air bases in Viet Nam during the Tet Offensive which started on January the 31st 1968 just forty-five days before I first saw Saigon as our plane landed.  Six marines got off our plane that day and six others took their seats.  We then lifted off on our way to Bangkok.  Three hundred and sixty five days later I left South East Asia via the same route.

 

As I traveled home I clutched in my hands the simple treasures I brought home with me which invoked the memories of the Buddhist ceremonies my Thai friends held for me.  The strings the priest tied around my neck in the belief it would protect me and the strings my friend and his family tied around my wrist as signs of their love and prayers for me as well.  The strings grew old and tattered and had to be removed but the memories still reside within me and are contained in my heart.

 

The simply love of a friend and the love his family offered to me carried me through.  When I think how much their love uplifted me I am awestruck with what the love of God can do for me and for anyone who is willing to follow the pathway laid out for them by the Son of God.  This morning as we offer prayers for those who came before us, standing up for our freedom of religion, defending our right to worship God as we choose, let us not forget to add the name of Jesus, the name of the Advocate: The Spirit of Truth and the name of our Heavenly Father, and the names of the Apostles like Peter and Paul; and the great leaders of our faith throughout the ages like Martin Luther and Saint Teresa and countless others who have blended and become one with the Spirit of Truth that Jesus sent to be with us.  Without all their names the list can not be complete.

 

Surely the love of God, the Spirit of Truth, and the Advocate looked after those who stood up for us over the ages.  In the same manner they stand by us and look after us even now.  The protection of God through the Living Holy Spirit is with us always.  Our enemies can take from us our earthly possessions and even our human lives, yet they can never take from us our freedom or our love of God. These things are God given and we take them with us into the future and beyond.

 

As we lift up our eyes unto Our Heavenly Father, just as Jesus did, let us also lift up our faith as well.  Let us carry in our hearts the fullness of God’s eternal and everlasting love.  Badges of honor and medals of freedom can tarnish and become worn, yet the Spirit of Truth that comes from knowing and loving the Son of God, will never fade from our hearts nor become silenced in our minds.  Seek always to carry the love of God as you follow the teachings of Christ, placing God and Country first; knowing that the truth is contained in God’s ever present love.

 

Amen.

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