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Sermon for The Sixth Sunday of Easter - Year A
Acts 17:22-31; Psalm 66:8-20; I Peter 3:13-22; John 14:15-21
"Make Christ Lord"


READING:  Acts 17:22-31; Psalm 66:8-20; I Peter 3:13-22; John 14:15-21
SERMON :  "Make Christ Lord"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
a-ea06se 486000
                  
     The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon
     for the upcoming Sunday.  Hymn numbers, designated as VU are
     found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".
     SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC.
	 
     
Some kids are especially blessed 
they are blessed by good and loving parents -
     - by parents whose love is like that of God
     - by parents who, by the power of their love are spiritually present
     with their kids at all times
     - parents who, even when physically absent, leave notes in lunches
     boxes, signs of love on fridges and blessings upon pillows so that
     their children may know that they are loved deeply.

I know that when I was a kid I really appreciated these things.

But I also know that as a kid I was occasionally grounded, restricted, and
cut off from the fullness of the blessings my parents sought to pour out
upon me.

My parents still loved me when I was grounded, they still loved me deeply,
but things did not go quite as well for me as they did when I was not
grounded. 

And this kind of experience continues on into adult life 
     -into all our relationship of love.
We find that when our love is well expressed in consideration and in
     respect, in holy humility and in divine giving,
that blessings flow abundantly, and we know fully the love we are supposed
     to know, we know the secret of the universe as it were; God is as
     completely revealed to us as he can be this side of heaven.

But when we hold back 
     when we do not do all that love asks us to do 
          something goes missing inside us -
we begin to ache and pain
     even though the love of our lover is still all around us,
          still calling out to us, 
          still seeking for us the very best.

What I am saying my friends is simply this 
- there are spiritual laws at work in the universe 
- laws that God works with and which by his mercy operate at all times.

Christ speaks of one of these laws or principles in today's Gospel reading,
a reading which is part of that which is often called his last will and
testament because it is the final teaching he gives to his disciples before
he is crucified.

As part of that testament he speaks of his final and ultimate gift to all
who are a part of God's family - of his family - the gift of the Holy
Spirit. 

Jesus tells the disciples the night of his betrayal that if they love him,
they will keep his commandments.

And he promises them his Spirit unconditionally 
- a Spirit that will advocate for them, 
     and comfort them, 
     and lead them 
     and watch over them. 
He promises them that the Spirit of God will live in them.

Jesus also tells his disciples that not everyone will receive the spirit.

He tells them that those in the world, 
     those who love only themselves
          those who sneer at holy things and scorn the law of God
cannot receive the receive the Spirit 
     because they do not know the Spirit, 
     because they do not desire it.

Jesus assures his disciples on the night of his betrayal that they will see
him again - that because he lives and will continue to live so will they -
and that they will know that he is in the Father and that they are in him
and he is in them.

Then he goes on to remind them of what he had said before

     "They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love
     me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will
     love them and reveal myself to them."

A promise 
and a reminder.

The promise of his eternal and holy presence urging and supporting  and
comforting us no matter what.

And the reminder that we will see and feel the full glory of that gift when
we are in the right space - that space which is the righteous space, the
loving space, God calls us to.

Jesus gives  us the gift of his eternal love and reminds us of how love
     works: of how while there is unconditional affection and care there is
     as well the hope that the love will be returned - so that we will know
     the fullness of the love we are receiving.

Jesus reminds us that love needs to be returned - not just directly, in
expressions of devotedness,  but also indirectly, in actions whereby we
pass on the love to others.

Jesus makes us promises and he gives to us reminders,
     reminders that there are consequences to what we do
          wonderful consequences 
and sometimes not so wonderful consequences.

Reading past verse 21 of today's gospel reading we find the  question 
asked of Jesus 

          "Lord how is it that you will reveal yourself to us -
          and not to the world."

Jesus answers  

     "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."

As adults we know that is what always happens when there is a deep and
intimate relationship of love
     - folks move in together, they live together and enjoy themselves
     together and work together and do many things together 
- and all of a sudden - because of this relationship there are both inlaws
and outlaws to deal with.

Consider the inlaws all the people around you who seek to do God's will.
Consider the outlaws all those who couldn't care less about God or you.

Jesus, as our lover, asks us to keep his commandments and to love all of
them, both the inlaws and outlaws, as if they were he; 
     he tells us that this is what the life he offers and shares with us is
     all about,
          he tells us that when we obey him we will truly see him and know
          him.

The truth about life is revealed to us by the Spirit of truth that Jesus
sends to us from the Father - and that truth is love 
     - love expressed and shown to others in the way God shows love to us, 
     - a love expressed and shown according to the word sent to us by God
     from the beginning and incarnated in Christ Jesus our brother and our
     Lord.

You can't go wrong by following Christ.  
You can only go right.

The apostle Peter suggests to us in verse 15 of today's epistle reading
that the secret of the spiritual life - of the life that gives life - of
the life that is worth the living -  is found in sanctifying in our hearts
Jesus as Lord.

This means pretty much the same as what Jesus meant when he said to the
disciples "if you love me you will keep my commandments." 

To sanctify something means to make that thing holy 
- to make it special -
- to make it different 
- to make it wonderful 
- to dedicate it to the divine purpose 
- to dedicate it to the divine One
- to allow the Spirit to transform it from one degree of glory to another.

Sanctify, 
in your hearts, 
Christ as Lord.

Don't just say I believe in and love Christ - show that love.  

Take the time each day to know him, to treat him as a friend, to talk to
him and to make him special to yourselves.  Treat his wishes as your
deepest desire, his every suggestion and hint as your life giving law and
your greatest yearning.

To "Sanctify Christ in your heart as Lord" means...  
- it means to really hold on to him and to hold his word in your awareness,
- it means to really listen and then to really do.

It is all so simple a child can get it and do it,
     and so wonderful and so rich that it gifts all the years of our lives
with awe and with power.

All these things the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit have told us so
that we might have the fullness of God's blessings - that we may know the
true glory of love and the eternal joy and strength that life in Him
brings. 

God is with us - Christ is in us - the Spirit is all around us.

Look and see - 
love and abide in him -  
be true and obey him as your Lord  
- and life will blossom all around you like flowers in the spring 
and God will be revealed in his fullness to you and to the world around you 

Praise be to God, now and forevermore  - Amen


Let us sing as a Prayer for God's grace the hymn: "BEHOLD THY PEOPLE LORD"


copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 2005
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.


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