Archive for May 17th, 2020

Sermon Text:  St. John 14: 15-21

Here what the Lord promises in His doctrine or teaching in today’s Gospel reading:

The giving of the Holy Spirit

We know the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit abides with His Church

We are not orphans, we’ve been adopted

We will see the Son

We will live

The indwelling of the Son with His Church

Loving the Lord

The epiphany of the Son

This Gospel is dripping  like a honeycomb with the Lord’s precious promises to us all with the dew of heaven.  The Lord’s key promise is in the negative, I will not leave you as orphans.

What does it mean in the positive? When someone is not left as an orphan?  The orphan is adopted. In the first century, the Romans, when they had a child and did not want it (especially a girl), they would “expose their child”, leaving her on the doorstep to die or be adopted.  It was Christians who were noted for adopting those children. Die or be adopted as a son or daughter.  The Lord did not will His disciples to be exposed, left on the doorstep of the world to die, but to have eternal life in Him.  This is the reason, bar none, to rectify the sinner before God which the sinner can not do. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.  And:   For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8: 15

Note what it says in the written Word:  “heirs according to the promise”.  Heirs, inheriting the Lord’s treasures of faith, hope and love, the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Heirs, not according to the Law, by what we have done, but according to what we have done deserving nothing but God’s wrath, justly according to His Law. This is the Spirit of truth. We do not deserve the Lord’s inheritance, but the Lord alone knows fully we need His inheritance. So by baptism and faith in His grace He cleanses us from all unrighteousness.   According to the promise, that is what Christ Jesus has done, baptizing you, making you His own, forgiving you, sealing you with the Holy Spirit, by, through, with and under His death and resurrection. The spiritual lungs filled with the Pneuma, the Holy Spirit.  Hearts beating alive with the heart and will of God, Jesus Christ. Souls saved.

A few years ago,  a respected member of Lexington, gave a presentation. In her presentation she told an anecdote about her deceased husband. He was Methodist minister and then later a  professor.  The Methodist minister professor was sent to India to teach a course. His wife told us that one day in India a Hindu came to her husband stating that he wanted to become a Christian. The professor and minister encouraged the Hindu to stay in his own religion and, “…make it better”.   She quipped that my husband was not much of missionary with a chuckle. This story was part of her rendition of her husband’s larger theme to stay in your own religion and “make it better”. The prof’s wife’s presentation was for a  group of 25 or so.  And most chuckled along with her.  This is what is scary:  this can sound smart and witty and even good and so the devil can have a toehold. Just think if Paul was like that professor in Athens, then we would all be worshiping the “unknown god”, not the God who sent His Son into this dark world; and as the Apostle said, we worship Whom we know Who fully knows us. I don’t want a religion that I “make better”, but one that makes Schroeder better, and beginning, not externally but heart, soul and mind.  Only the Lord can reach you in your hearts and will and so save.

And so, the Church is the School of the Holy Spirit, pre-k through graduate level, and yes beyond, continuing education. Jesus promises to make disciples of all nations. Jesus is teaching us the work of the Holy Spirit so that we formed in Him, transformed in His forgiveness and love, and not conformed to the world.

            If we not vainly attempting to make the Christian religion better, then we might at times feel like the Apostle Paul,

“…his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.”

Can you imagine what a Martin Luther or a Thomas Aquinas say about our digital Athens and it’s perversions of sex and greed? They would be provoked, but not act upon that provocation with further provocation but to peacefully tell of Christ  and the hope that is in you.

If we not vainly attempting to make the Christian religion better then we might hear questions like,

 “What does this babbler wish to say?”

With the hope in the Lord to hear this:

“You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.”

To hear the meaning and the Holy Spirit reveal the Christ. Earlier in John’s Gospel, in our Lord’s conversation with Nicodemus, He taught that unless one is born above or water and the Spirit, one cannot see Kingdom of God.  Baptism, wrote the Apostle Peter, saves.  Baptism saves. It’s so plain, Baptism saves.  Baptism has Christ’s command and promise behind Baptism, in Baptism, through Baptism. In Baptism He has put His Name on us and us in Him:  Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Consciences washed clean, raised by the Lord’s resurrection.  Baptism is Biblical, not only the act, but the effects of the Lord’s Word of Promise.   Baptism is the Lord’s own way  that the orphans of this world see His reign of grace, mercy and peace. The world only sees in Christians adherents of a suspect religion. The world does not know nor gets the Holy Spirit nor His work and the world doubts, at best, our adoption but we will gladly say it, “I am baptized into Christ, I’m a child of paradise.” (#594, Lutheran Service Book)  This is our witness to Jesus Christ:  our Baptism.  The Apostle Peter wrote that we are to be prepared to give a reason for the hope that is in us when asked, and to do so with “gentleness and respect”.  Our defense and witness is NOT how good we are, but how good God is in His grace in Jesus Christ for us sinners.

The Lord’s Church is an orphanage and more than an orphanage: adopted in Holy Baptism, given the family Name, the Holy Trinity. Jesus taught that the world cannot receive the Holy Spirit.  The world seeks only it’s own glory, fame and power.  It is self-seeking and self-destroying, and it’s gone viral.  The gods and goddesses, known and unknown, that the Apostle Paul saw that day in Athens, are demons, projections of the Old Adam writ large in lust and power. We do not have idol statues on the streets.  They are on TV now seeking human hearts. The gods are twisted and twisting.  The Holy Spirit seeks to find those lost in Athens.  The Lord, the Holy Spirit brings them into His good home, by the Office of the Holy Spirit, preaching and teaching Jesus Christ. Remember that Jesus knew the joy of being adopted on earth by Joseph.

I speculate that back in the 1st century, and probably in the 19th century and the centuries before there were more orphans because of higher early mortality rates.  In fact, the Lutheran Church had a notable orphanage in Roanoke, begun in 1888.   Yet there are today  many orphans, spiritual orphans. Children orphaned by parental abuse, emotional, physical and sexual. Children orphaned by their parents’ divorce wars.  Children prevented from coming to Jesus by them not being baptized, and a generation of those baptized, then hardly ever brought again to God’s House.  It is spiritual child abandonment.  Living in a culture in which children act like adults and adults act like children, that is, childish.  With the desire to be like children, the love of children becomes perverted. Children aborted as a diabolical perversion of ‘mercy’Children orphaned by tyrannical wars, as in Syria. Jesus is clear, that, “….whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”  He sends out His Apostles, breathing on them the Holy Spirit, to retain the sins of the unrepentant and to forgive the repentant in His mercy shed in His blood for all orphans.  He sent out His Apostles out to teach and baptize.

Professor Naomichi Masaki, Concordia Seminary, Ft. Wayne said it well:    “When the Holy Spirit is doing His job, all we see and hear of is Jesus. When you clearly hear and see Jesus then you know that the Holy Spirit is at work.”  An eastern Orthodox priest and theologian, in a similar way said that the work of the Holy Spirit is transparent: to teach and preach Jesus Christ to the glory of the Father. The Church is living her vocation when all we see and hear of is Jesus.  Then you know the Holy Spirit is at work.  Living as Baptized children of God is not necessarily comfortable that is cushy and easy living as sons and daughters of the King, growing into full adulthood as the Lord’s sons and daughters, in this world. It is hard growing up spiritually. The disciples were overcome with doubt and dark the night in which Jesus was betrayed.   The Lord is the Paraclete, and that word is translated as Helper, Comforter. The word Paraclete is related to the Greek words for encouragement or comfort.  Encouragement is comfort.  It literally means to stand along side of and the Holy Spirit dwelling within, our bodies temple of the Holy Ghost. Not comfortable but comforting in His forgiveness which He gives through His means of grace, the means of the Holy Spirit:  Baptism and the Sacrament of the Altar. His Word is His promise.  He fights by our side with weapons of the Spirit, as it is written in Ephesians 6, “… the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”

In the Name of the Father and of the  +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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