6th Weekend of Easter - 5-22-2022

6th Weekend of Easter - 5-22-2022

May 22, 2022 | Bryan Simmons

Passage: John 14:23-29

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    Well. I don't know if you know this, but it was Synod Assembly this weekend. That's where the Synod gets together all the clergy and voting lay delegates from our congregations get together in the Synod and we get together and we share what the church is up to--the whole church together. And we share in the joys and the sorrows of each other as well. New congregations forming, old congregations closing and everything in between. And what was interesting this year is our bishop, Bishop Amy Current is is really a breath of fresh air, I think, when it comes to these things, because she just brings such an enthusiasm and positivity to the whole thing, even the congregations that were closing. She put in a lens of death and resurrection how new things were blossoming out of congregations that were closing. And the whole thing is rooted in this theme: "Go tell the world." And if you don't think we get a lot of cool stuff at these things, this cardboard cone is one of these cool things we get. It's a little megaphone. And the idea is that that our voice can carry. And we can share the story of Jesus with everyone. We are empowered to tell the world and it really does work. Now, the great irony of that is the online people didn't hear a thing because I shut my microphone off for that!

    But we are rooted in this command to share the story, to tell others of the good news of Jesus Christ. To talk about our faith. To talk about who Jesus is and why it matters. Why the death and resurrection has this profound impact for us. And I think we get a little nervous about that from time to time. Right? We don't know the right words. We don't have the right education. It's not really the right place to talk about these things. You know, religion and politics and all of that. And so we usually shut it off before we even think about starting that conversation. And I think the disciples were the same way. It was really easy for the disciples to talk about Jesus when Jesus was with them, when Jesus was walking around doing miracles, casting out demons. Going after the Pharisees for setting up too rigid of a system. But, oh, my. You're going to leave us? We have to do the work of telling this story without you? It's a pretty daunting task and really it would be easier to just leave it up to Jesus to do the whole thing. But that's not the charge to you and me. In fact, later in John, Jesus tells his disciples that they will be doing greater things than Jesus does. Now, that's an odd thing. How can you do something greater than salvation for everybody through death and resurrection of God, the Son?

    But it's this idea that you and I have this ability, have this relational character, that can tell this story, in many and multiple ways. Jesus has his story to tell. And that story is captured in the Gospels. And that moment of death and resurrection is powerful for you and for me. To know that Jesus and the Father are one. Because all this stuff that Jesus was talking about happened. To know that God is for us. To know that we have love, forgiveness, peace, eternal life. All because God, the Father wants that for us.

    We know that this story changes us -- who we are from the inside out. How we think about life, how we look at the world, how we deal with others. Rooted in Christ is very different than rooted in anything else. But how do we possibly share this story? The disciples wondered the same thing and Jesus blesses them with this gift. Says that the Holy Spirit, this advocate will come. Jesus says the Father will send it to you in my name. It will teach you everything. It will teach you everything. Might not give you all the heady knowledge you ever wanted. It isn't an instant seminary class. As someone who's been to seminary and as some of you who have been to seminary, you know that seminary doesn't teach you everything. Probably gives you more questions than answers.

    But what the Holy Spirit does is empower us in our lives, to reflect on who we are and who we are in Christ and the relationships that we have made with others. Our unique knowledge that we bring to the table, our life knowledge, the knowledge that we've gained to do our jobs well. To raise families to form solid friendships. This is what empowers us to share the story of Jesus in a unique way that no one else can. You are uniquely empowered and uniquely gifted for evangelism in this church. Because you are the only one living your story. You are the only one that can share in a unique way how Jesus has changed you, how Jesus affects the way you look at things in your daily life. This is the thing greater that we accomplished together as one in the body of Christ. We each have a unique story at the table. We each are uniquely gifted. We each encounter Jesus in unique ways because of this. And it is the circle of friends that we have created, the co-workers, the networks that we have, that  allow us to proclaim Christ in a way that can't simply be done through the pulpit or a podcast. It's the relationships that we have formed. The bonds that we have forged. That allow us to truly evangelize.

    And the Holy Spirit is there the entire time with us. Giving us that advocacy that we need. Perhaps nudging us to do a little something, this whole concept of "pay it forward," this idea of of just moving forward and doing something for somebody else in the hopes that they would be inspired to do the same for others. This idea of looking out for one another beyond ourselves. The Holy Spirit is there nudging. Encouraging. Convincing. It's not that you have to stand on a soapbox and give a great, logical debate as to the validity of the resurrection, or a text proof of God that God exists because, you know, x, y, z.

    How is your relationship with God changing who you are? How is your relationship with God allowing you to share that story with others. We all have stories to tell, great and small. We all have mighty mountaintop experiences. But we also have the simple day to day things, that maybe it takes a little longer to think about. And to ponder and reflect and say, you know what? I think God was in that moment.

    The Holy Spirit is there to guide us forward. And as a congregation, we are doing just that meeting today after worship to move forward, to position ourselves in a way that we can proclaim to the world. Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again. And the Holy Spirit, the advocate, is there for us to guide us along the way. So that we truly have an amazing story to tell. Amen.