Summary: A sermon for the 6th Sunday of Easter, Series C

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6th Sunday of Easter, May 13, 2007, “Series C”

Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, you sent your Son into our world, that through his death and resurrection, we might be restored to a right and meaningful relationship with you. Help us to treasure your gift of grace, and through the power of your Holy Spirit, so inspire us to reach out to others with your promise of redemption. And when anxieties arise, give us the peace that passes understanding, the peace that comes from the knowledge that through our Lord’s death and resurrection, our future transcends life here on earth. This we ask in Christ’s holy name. Amen.

Our Gospel lesson for this morning is a small portion of one of the most remarkable segments in all of the New Testament – what has come to be know as our Lord’s Farewell Discourse with his disciples. According to John’s Gospel, this discourse takes place after Judas Iscariot has left the gathered disciples to betray Jesus, and prior to his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Thus, Jesus knows that his life on earth is quickly coming to an end, and he seizes this opportunity to prepare his faithful followers for what is about to take place. This whole discourse is so compassionate and full of Christ’s love for his disciples, both then and now, that I would encourage you to read it in its entirety when you return home today. It is recorded in chapters 14 through 17 of John’s Gospel.

Just think of the compassion that Jesus expresses for us, his disciples, as he faces his brutal death on the cross. His discourse begins with those comforting words spoken at nearly every funeral service. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will take you to myself, so that where I am, you may be also…”

And then, our Lord’s discourse ends with what we now refer to as Christ’s priestly prayer for his disciples. Here Jesus prays, “Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them…” It is hard to read this text without sensing the tremendous love Christ has for us.

Our lesson for this morning is no less expressive of our Lord’s dying love for his disciples. And it is really an appropriate text for this sixth Sunday of Easter, which falls just prior to our remembrance of Christ’s Ascension, our risen Lord’s return to our Heavenly Father, which occurs this coming Thursday. For the words that Jesus spoke to prepare his disciples for his absence through death, are just as meaningful in helping us live today in the absence of his resurrection appearances.

First, let’s consider this promise Jesus makes to us. “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.”

Jesus has promised us that we would not be left on our own to try and make sense out of his life, death, resurrection and ascension. And his promise has been fulfilled. On Pentecost we recall how God had poured out his Holy Spirit upon the disciples, not only to give them the courage to proclaim that they had experienced Jesus die on a cross and rise from the grave. But the Spirit also gave them the ability to understand what his death and resurrection meant for their redemption.

And through the power of God’s Spirit, our Lord’s words and deeds came to be recorded – perhaps not verbatim – but they have never been forgotten. And through the power of God’s Spirit still at work in the life of the church, even to this day, Jesus’ words continue to be interpreted and made relevant to our daily life. And in that sense, our crucified and risen Lord continues to be present among us, guiding us and leading us into a more meaningful relationship with God.

In addition, through the power of God’s Spirit, we not only come into our Lord’s presence through his spoken words, but through the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, we are afforded the opportunity to experience and participate in our Lord’s gift of redemption.

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