Those Who Love Me

Sermon Summary for Sunday, May 26, 2019 | Respectfully submitted by Brenda Worley

“Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.  Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.”  John 14: 23-24

The above was the answer Jesus gave when asked why he was not going to reveal himself to the world.  Jesus makes it clear that rejecting him is rejecting the Father.  His ministry is not a scheme devised by him, but a ministry to bring us to the Father.  The thought of Jesus and the Father making a home in our hearts should bring us peace and give us courage to testify to others.    

When visited by a friend in the hospital, W.C. Fields was found thumbing through the Bible.  When questioned why he replied that he was looking for loopholes.   Instead of accepting the peace and courage offered by the Father and Son, he was looking for a way to dismiss it all and declare that this whole Jesus thing a fraud.

We have all met people who do the same.  We are all guilty of it at some point or another.  Looking for loopholes causes us to miss out on a life of peace that knows no understanding.  When the hard times come, as they always do, there is nothing to ground us and give us courage to persevere.  Looking for loopholes is like “not seeing the forest for the trees.”  We look so hard for understanding that we miss the mystery of it all.

Our relationship with the Trinity calls us to live out the Five Marks of Mission as expressed by the Anglican Church.  They are as follows:

To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom.
To teach, baptize and nurture new believers.
To respond to human need by loving service.
To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation.
To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.

In explanation, former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori noted that mission is about receiving love and then responding by going out and sharing. “It is a matter of calling the near and the far off together into the fold. It is about healing and reconciling. It is about making that love incarnate in the lives of people around us and in the lives of people on the other end of the earth.”

However, living into these Five Marks of Mission can cause us trouble.  Two examples follow.

·         Marilyn Webb, now an acclaimed journalist, author, and professor, was denied her Ph.D. in 1966 because she would not do “favors” for two of the professors on her committee for approving her doctorate.  In the light of the #metoo movement, she recently voiced this event.  The courage to do this and the strength to preserve led to her finally receiving her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago at the age of 76.

·         Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor during the 1940’s, was put in a concentration camp because he criticized and worked against the Nazi regime.  All through his imprisonment to the point of his execution he never lost faith in his God.  Just before he was hanged in April of 1945 he wrote a letter and poem to his mother and witnessed that God had never left him.  The poem can be found at following link.

The grief that can befall us when we fail to live out these marks of mission is evidenced in the 2014 water crisis in Flint, Michigan.  In order to save money, the water source for the city was changed from Lake Huron and the Detroit River to the Flint River.  Failure to treat the water from this new source with corrosion inhibitors caused the aged water pipes of the city to leach lead into the water.  The water source has been changed back but the long reaching effects of the lead polluted water are still a great concern.

We will miss God’s love if we look for loopholes.  He never asks us to do things and then abandons us.  He is with us through it all.  The homily ended with a prayer in which our Father was asked to help us “face each day with confidence to produce light for your people.”