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Saying Good bye and Thank you
You will show me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy,and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.
Jesus tells us again and again, and particularly in today’s Gospel, that his is the way of life, and embrace it we must if we are to be followers of Christ. There is no time to delay; there is no time for hesitation, no time for despair, no time looking back to our past mistakes and failure of nerve. It is time to go all the way in this life of discipleship and to know its costs – which thankfully for us, do not usually mean our lives as in the case of martyrdom. This call does mean making Jesus our top priority. It does mean asking ourselves every day: “What would Jesus have me do?” When we do this, and embrace Jesus’ life as our own, those fruits of the Spirit that Paul enumerates in today’s Epistle just seem to kick into place. We have more than enough to join this ministry of joy and love. And we always have one another.
A Forward Day by Day quotation of a few years ago still hits me like a 2 x 4 with its compelling wisdom. It reads, “A sign of God’s will is that we will be led where we did not plan to go. When I look back on those events,” the article continues, “I see God’s hand in them. When I was able to put my trust in God, I was led where I did not plan to go but where I definitely needed to be. Thanks be to God!” How true this has been for me!
I never expected to serve at Emanuel; I had other plans. God took care of that, and what a blessing you have been in my life – and in Steve’s.
You have asked what you can do for me – so here goes – Come to church – EVERY SUNDAY. We need to worship and pray together and practice doing that. We are always in rehearsal. I totally understand about other commitments. Make church the top priority along with your family and friends. I have attempted to do this my entire life – not just the over half of it I have been a priest.
We come to church to practice being Christians – to pray, serve and love one another. Thank you for the fabulous nine years that I have practiced being a Christian, a follower of Jesus, with you! How I will miss all of you. I love you Emmanuel, Newport. You are forever in my heart.
It’s the small words that count most: in today’s Epistle, Paul tells the Jerusalem Christians that their welcome does not go far enough. The Gentiles do not have to subscribe to all the Jewish regulations, he insists. What these Gentiles have to do is be baptized and proclaim Jesus as Lord.
Sometimes Paul gets carried away. In this case, he presses his point by telling his Jewish colleagues that all the old categories they had followed all their lives are too confining. What follows is absolutely radical. “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ.” They note his emphasis on all.
One preaching professor reads this Galatians passage and observes that the hardest words to learn in any language are never the long words but the short words. The Galatians have no trouble pronouncing the long, ponderous words: circumcision, for one. But they stumbled over three short words: faith, grace, baptism, and especially, “all.”
“All” is very hard for the people in Galatia to follow. All is at the heart of the teachings of Jesus – all are welcome at the table, all are forgiven, all can be cured. It is about taking that first step, as the man possessed with the demon in today’s Gospel knew so very well, taking the step towards health and wholeness. All are welcome at the Lord’s table at Emmanuel Church.
Trinity Sunday: It’s complicated….
Today is Trinity Sunday, the only Sunday specifically dedicated to a Christian teaching or doctrine. This annual commemoration gives us the opportunity to explore the mystery of God and how Christians from the earliest centuries sought to understand God and Jesus’ relationship to God. It gives us the opportunity to explore the different strands of our relationships to God, as the earliest Christians did. By the time the Nicene Creed was penned in the fourth century, the doctrine of the Trinity had come into focus as describing 1 God in 3 parts – as Creator, as Savior and Sustainer.
The Trinity doctrine is a simple and complicated formula: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is no formula to be memorized for yet another examination (as I did when I was confirmed in 1970). This is a formula we carry with us on all our journeys.
There are 3 major feast days in the Church year: Christmas, Easter and PENTECOST.
Pentecost is probably the least known and celebrated. Unlike Christmas there’s no baby in the manger, no angels, no crèche scene and tableau with the Holy Family. Unlike Easter there is no empty tomb, no Holy Week story of drama to precede it and no women. Instead, we have tongues of flame on the 12 disciples’ heads. It’s all about the Spirit in the tongues of fire and what happens next.
Pentecost is just as exciting as Christmas and Easter in its own way, including it being (unofficial and not entirely accurate) the birthday of the church.
You’ll know that it is a big deal at Emmanuel – look for the color red, balloons, and an Emmanuel photo taken at the end of the 10 am service. (Many thanks to Kim Robey for taking the photo!) Don’t miss the activities, all signs of the Spirit alive and well at Emmanuel.
How do you say goodbye? For Jesus, preparing to leave the close society of his disciples seems to have been a long process. Almost from the beginning he gently, or sometimes in exasperation, explained that the course his life was following would lead to profound changes in their lives. So he began saying goodbye early.
When families get together to say farewell to someone moving away, or to celebrate the last few days of someone’s’ single life before marriage, or when someone is in the final stages of his life in this world, they often rummage around and get out old photographs. Every time we hold a funeral here at Emmanuel families put together a collage of photographs, and usually have a photograph of the deceased loved one on the cover of the service sheet. These pictures stimulate an extended round of reminiscence – where holidays were spent, the most memorable meal. Before an impending change, people tend to reflect more than usual on how they got to where they are. They are preparing to say “Goodbye.” I cannot underscore how important such remembering is and how it must continue as part of our lives. It is all about staying connected to one another.
On this seventh Sunday of Easter, we stand between our observance of the Ascension and the Day of Pentecost, as the readings for today remind us once again of our new life in the Risen Christ. The Gospel passage concludes the series of readings from Jesus’ “farewell discourse” (Jn 13:1-17:26) with his “high Priestly Prayer (Jn 17:1-16). As the prayer begins, Jesus’ “hour” has come, as he asks that he might glorify God and promises eternal life for all. Jesus prays for his immediate disciples to be protected and unified in the Father’s name and assures them that they will be protected and with him.
Let us contemplate all that Jesus gives us in the conclusion of this long goodbye,. May we trust God that even as Jesus was telling his first disciples one last time that with God and through Jesus and the Holy Spirit we are never alone or comfortless. Wherever this journey of following Jesus takes you, you have all that you need to boldly follow him as your Savior, putting all your trust in God and Jesus, as Jesus reminds his disciples, one last time.
Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel that this is a “new” commandment. How is this so? There is nothing to suggest that love was absent from the disciples’ lives in the tradition of their Judaism. Was it new in that the disciples were entering a new time of life in the world? Was it new in that only now had Jesus begun to talk this way to them? Or perhaps the nature of their love for one another was to be new? Certainly, Jesus tells them that they are to love as he had loved them. How do we do this?View Sermon