Today is Youth Sunday at St. MM and the youth will present an offering during the usual homily. Here are some thoughts on the Gospel for the day.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
Jesus taught much about love. A love that is often hard to understand. The kind of love that calls us to follow his commandments not because we earn heavenly brownie points, but one that urges us to love more like Jesus does.
A love that is relational and spiritual. A love that Jesus lives and died for, and calls us to. A love that led him to the cross. A love that continues in spite of failure and disappointment. A love that allows us to stay in relationship even when we disagree. A love that does not depend on how we look, how we vote, where we live, or who our friends are.
A love that is not possible on our own. A love we come closer to as we deepen our relationship with the triune God. As this relationship continues to grow, these commands become not a chore, but rather a desire.
We need the transformation that happens in our hearts as we let God have more and more of it. That continuing conversion in our lives. Each time we love, each time we give sacrificially of our time and talents, each time we turn the other cheek, we come closer to following the commandments in the way Jesus meant for us to.
We are reminded that the Holy Spirit is our helper, our advocate, our comforter. Yet for some of us understanding the Holy Spirit is difficult. We want to push this part of the Trinity away, to somehow place the Holy Spirit in a box. To make the Holy Spirit some ethereal being apart from the Trinity or to make it some sparkly, quirky, forgetful female portion of the Trinity.
In the 60’s and 70’s saw the charismatic movement sweep through the Episcopal Church. It was an exciting and frightening time in the life of the church. In some places there was incredible growth both spiritually and numerically. In other places there was deep pain as the “traditional” way of doing things was thrown out for the “new” way of doing things. The movement shook the church up in unexpected ways.
Yet today we rarely talk about the charismatic movement, speaking in tongues, or about being spirit led. Stories are no longer told of informal services of prayer and worship. It is almost as if the movement never happened. It makes me wonder what about it was so important to some and so frightening to others and why we don’t talk about it anymore.
Could it be about being in control? Imagine being in a room like the disciples were on the day of Pentecost. The unexpected happens and what should scare you to death fills you with peace. Others see it, don’t understand it, and rather than accept the working of the Holy Spirit, look for worldly reasons to make sense of God at work.
How would our churches, our lives, our very world be changed if we waited on the movement of the Spirit? What would it feel like to surrender complete control? To give the reins to the Holy Spirit and say, “here you do it.” To lay down our own will and say, “Not my will, but yours be done.”
It is much easier to hold on to the idea of the Holy Spirit as kind of a teddy bear we take out when we need comforting. Or a quilt we are wrapped in when we are frightened by the stuff of life.
This powerful, life changing part of the Trinity is frightening. Yet Jesus reminds us, the Holy Spirit is with us forever.
This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. Yet we know him, because he abides with us, and he will be in us.
While we may not understand that conceptually, that seems better than a teddy bear any day.
God, there is so much about you that is unknown to us. Through the Spirit of truth, teach us. Instruct us on keeping the commandments. When we fail to understand, inspire us to continue to abide in you. In the name of the risen Christ we pray. Amen. Prayer by David von Schlichten