Sermon delivered on Easter 6C, Sunday, May 26, 2019 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.
If you prefer to listen to the audio podcast of today’s sermon, click here.
Lectionary texts: Acts 16.6-15; Psalm 67; Revelation 21.10, 22-22.5; John 14.23-29.
As Christian citizens, we celebrate Memorial Day today for a couple of reasons:
- The word of God commands us to give honor to whom honor is due.
- This day also helps us in thanking God for the freedoms we enjoy as a result of the extreme sacrifice made by so many of America’s sons and daughters for the sake of freedom.
So as we remember the sacrifice of others, it is appropriate to thank God who strengthened those who made that sacrifice possible.
In his 1828 magnus opus, American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster defined “sacrifice” – to destroy, surrender or suffer to be lost for the sake of obtaining something (of greater good?). He illustrates this definition in a sentence,
- “We should never sacrifice health to pleasure, nor integrity to fame.”
Generally speaking, the reality of sacrifice is something of which this generation of Americans, Kenyans and other countries of the world is sadly ignorant. One unmistakeable proof is the breakdown of the family unit taking place at an alarming rate. I have learned and keep learning that Sacrifice is necessary for any marriage to be successful .Eph 5:25 Husbands are to love their wives as christ loved the church.
We do well as a free citizenry to remember the sacrifice of fallen soldiers. Can I say with utmost respect to the soldier who has given his life for freedom’s cause, that there is an even more obvious omission than being ignorant or unappreciative of such sacrifices? And that is being ignorant or unappreciative of the ultimate sacrifice offered for mankind, a sacrifice that procures the highest freedom man can know…spiritual freedom. Tomorrow I trust the appreciation for the sacrifice of our armed servicemen and women will be renewed. More so i trust that we will seek to increase our appreciation for the leading of the Holy spirit in making sacrifice for those we love.
Last week’s sermon was about the command that christ left us of loving one another and He said no greater love that this that one lays down his life for another.
How far should i go in Love?
When an individual enlists in the military, especially during times of war, he or she must be cognizant that the answer they may have to give to the question, “How far should I go?” is “all the way,” even to the death.
Thinking about the sacrifice of Jesus for us, I sincerely doubt there exists an adequate illustration in our natural world that communicates the depths to which Christ went in giving His life for mankind. It is because we are deceived and blinded by our own collective tendency to overstate our value that we fail to grasp the absolute depths Christ experienced.
The unifying theme of today’s readings is “Guided by the Holy Spirit.” this is on the work of the Holy Spirit that is the focus during easter.
Christian art has typically depicted the Spirit as dove, wind or flame, all of which are grounded in Scripture. Today’s texts use none of those images.
Instead, the Spirit is One who calls, One who sends dreams and visions, One who opens hearts and reveals new leaders, and One who leads people into all Truth.
Paul has a vision or dream of a man from Macedonia calling him to come help the people in Macedonia. In response to this, Paul led his traveling companions on a journey that ended in Philippi.
The travelers stay there a few days, long enough to get the lay of the land and to discover where a group of Jewish women normally met for Sabbath prayers just outside the city walls. Here Paul found warm reception for his message of Jesus Christ the results results, Lydia, was baptized with her household.
The reason why Paul came here is more important. Paul relied on the Holy Spirit to direct him in mission. If you go back a few verses, you will see several instances right before this where Paul had intended to preach or teach in Asia Minor (Turkey), but the Holy Spirit stopped him. Instead, as revealed in the dream, Paul was to go across the sea to Macedonia. Upon receiving this vision, Paul and his companions set sail right away.
The mission is the Spirit’s first. Ours is to follow where the Spirit calls and leads.
I believe those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom today in this country too were led by the Holy spirit.
Paul trusted the Spirit who called him to open opportunities for sharing the gospel, starting with any of his fellow Jews who may live there. There was no synagogue in Philippi, so Paul visited the prayer meeting by the river outside the town walls.
Today, the Holy spirit still lead to the different ministries in the church
The Holy Spirit directs us in discipleship and mission, closing some doors and opening others.
Living in the Spirit requires that we be open, listening, and watchful for what the Spirit is already doing in the lives of others around us, wherever we may be sent or find ourselves.
Last week, we heard of new creation and the New Jerusalem, a sure sign that our promised hope is in a renewed earth with a renewed human culture. This week we see the new creation not simply as one city, but indeed as a whole planet with nations, political leaders, energy that flows from God, an economy built on the tree of life and the water of life from God, and a renewed world order in which dishonor and falsehood are thoroughly driven out and security and shalom abounds for all whose names are “written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
In Revelation, this world order reflects the goal and summit of God’s new creation. As disciples of Jesus, we are empowered to be witnesses and bearers of that new creation now, while recognizing it is always only God who makes all things new.
Here the Spirit appears not as air or wind, but as light from the lamp (the Lamb, Jesus) and the flowing water of the River of Life. People find their way by the light, and their lives, personally and politically, are sustained and made whole by the water that also nourishes the Tree of Life. The Holy Spirit thus irradiates and flows through everything in this final state, the fulfillment of the life we already have now because in baptism we have been reborn of water and the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit shows the way and continually gives life to all who will receive it.
Jesus says if we love him, we keep his commandment to love one another as he loves us. As we do this, we will find the Holy Spirit teaching us everything we need to know and reminding us of everything Jesus has said.
The Spirit is empowering, powerful, and demanding, continually driving us to do things we could not have imagined we could ever have done, all in obedience to Christ and love to God and neighbor.
Those who fought for the freedom of our beloved nation were motivated i believe by obedience and love for their family and our country
The peace Jesus offers in these verses is indeed not as the world gives, not a quieting but a “couraging,” not a stilling but a stirring of our hearts to follow where Jesus continues to lead. Christ’s peace and the Holy Spirit give us the capacity to do all of this, regardless of circumstances, unshaken.
Remember that the Holy Spirit continues to teach and guide us in obedience to the word of Jesus.
This week as we remember over 1.1 million men and women have died to guarantee our freedom as Americans, be reminded also that they gave their all so that we might enjoy all the blessings of this great land. Today, we honor their memory and their sacrifice. Thank God for every one of them.
Thank God for His unspeakable gift of Jesus! May we, never forget Who Jesus is, what He has done for us, and where He is taking us some day!
In the name of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.