In answer to Sunday's signpost question, that sign is located on the hill on the Days Hotel hill in Flatwoods. I took the picture on my way to preach at Morrison United Methodist Church (and then Gassaway United Methodist Church). The following (and the next two days posts) are my sermon from that day.
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. "I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 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." John 14:15-21
There is an old story, and maybe you’ve heard it, but I’m going to tell it to you anyway, even though it’s old…..
Once, there was a man who fell into a hole. We don’t know why he would do such a thing – what happened that he didn’t avoid this giant hole – maybe he didn’t stop for directions or listen to his wife’s advice about going another way and avoiding the hole, but never-the-less, he fell into this hole. It was deep, and he was stuck, with no way out.
He waited at the bottom of this hole, calling out every once and a while, hoping someone would come by. Eventually, his neighbor poked her head over the edge of the hole. “Oh, my, Mr. Smith! What are you doing at the bottom of this hole?”
“I fell into it – can you help me?”
The neighbor told him how sorry she was for his predicament, and how she felt for him. She understood how awful it must be down in the deep hole. And then she left, feeling pretty good about herself that she had shown her neighbor how much she cared.
And the man stayed in the hole.
Eventually, a fellow choir member from his church came by. Once again, the man explained that he needed help, and that he was stuck in the hole. The choir member said, “Oh, how terrible! I’ll pray for you – I’ll call the other choir members and we’ll pray for you, too! We’ll activate the prayer chain, and maybe we’ll even have a vigil. Please know that you are in our prayers.” And he left.
And the man stayed in the hole.
Eventually, a friend came along. Once again, the man explained that he needed help, and that he was stuck in the hole. The friend looked around, studied the situation, and then jumped down into the hole with the man. “What are you doing!” the man yelled. “Now you’re down here, too.”
The friend answered, “Yes, but I’ve been down here before, and I know the way out.”
The scripture I read today is from a section of the book of John called the Final discourse. John has recorded Jesus’ conversation with the Disciples just prior to the crucifixion. Jesus is having an intimate conversation with his closest friends. They’ve been through a lot together, shared life with each other. Jesus is preparing them for what he knows is about to happen.
My husband likes Red Letter Bibles -- I don’t – I’m distracted by the red, but I noticed as I was reading the scripture one more time before preparing the sermon that every word of this passage is in red letters. These are the words of Christ, shared with his friends. Red letter words. We are invited to listen and to hear within those words what God might be saying to us through their conversation.
The passage begins with the words, “If you love me….” I think the passage is about love – about the very nature of love. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” The Message version of the Bible reads, “If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you.” We have been told that the Greatest Commandment is to Love God with everything we have and are and to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we ever had any illusion that love is just warm feelings toward someone, that love is only sympathy or even empathy, if we ever thought we could love from a distance, then this passage – If you love me, then show it by doing what I’ve told you – shatters those assumptions. Love is active. Our obedience to God is not to be done out of duty or even fear; our obedience to God an expression of our love for him. True love of God cannot help but translate into obedience and action.
Labels: Gospel, Holy Spirit