Sunday, May 03, 2015

Sermon: Cantate (Easter 5) – 2015

3 May 2015

Text: John 16:5-15

In the name of + Jesus.  Amen.

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

Sometimes after a tragedy or an illness, a person has to learn how to function all over again.  Sometimes people need to relearn how to walk, to talk, to read, to play music, to drive a car as if they never knew how to do these things before.  Sometimes a person has to re-learn who he is, who his family members are, and what it means to be a human being.

The greatest tragedy in the history of humanity happened ironically in the Garden of Eden.  When our first parents rebelled against their loving Creator – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – they alienated themselves, not just from the wonderful Garden, but also from God and from their own humanity itself.  We forgot what it meant to be truly human.

No more would we be perfect physical, psychological, and spiritual beings in perfect communion with one another, with nature, and with the eternal God.  The Fall was a cosmic tragedy that changed all of our existence in a millisecond.

And we have been learning how to be human ever since.

God had to reacquaint mankind with Himself (God) and with himself (man).  God had to send prophets with the Word of God so that man might relearn how to be human, to fill in the missing collective memories of his past, to make baby steps toward a reconstruction of life in perfect communion with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and to move toward a restoration of our perfect, eternal state.

The people of God had to relearn about the holiness of God, that He is not a stone idol or a created thing, not a force of nature or a mythological hybrid between a man and a beast.  The people of God had to relearn about sin and death, about atonement and forgiveness, about eternal life and the covenants and promises of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

God provided the rainbow as a reminder of His mercy, the Temple as a reminder of the price of sin, and the priesthood to pave the way for our Great High Priest to come.  God provided prophecies to point us to the Lord’s coming in the flesh among us, and of what true humanity was and was to come.

And at the fullness of time, we were taught what it was to be truly human by the only perfect Man among all humanity, Jesus Christ.  Jesus taught us that God is “our Father who art in heaven,” that He is perfect and expects us to be perfect, that He is merciful, and gives us His righteousness as a free gift, and He Himself, the Son of God, laid down His life on the cross to undo the damage that we have done ever since Eden.  He rose from the dead to teach us that death is unnatural, and that it is overcome by love, by His blood, and by the will of the Father.

But we still had more to learn, even after the Lord’s resurrection.

This is what Jesus means by saying: “It is to your advantage that I go away.”  For God was not done revealing Himself to us, re-teaching us what we tragically forgot at the Fall.  For the Third Person of the Most Holy Trinity had yet to come and dwell with His Church, to guide us into all truth.  This is the “Helper,” the παράκλητος (“parakletos”), which can also be understood as “advocate,” “comforter,” “guide,” “consoler” and “intercessor.”  We know Him as the Holy Spirit.  He is equal in glory and co-eternal in majesty with the Father and the Son, uncreated, infinite, eternal, and almighty.  He is “of the Father and of the Son, neither made nor created nor begotten, but proceeding.”  He is indeed to be worshipped. 

He is neither a “she” nor an “it.”  He is not an impersonal force of the universe.  He is God Almighty, and our Lord Jesus Christ has begun to reacquaint mankind with Him in this Word that He speaks to us anew in the Holy Gospel.

The Holy Spirit has much to teach us, and promises to dwell in us as fleshly temples, even as He has “called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.”  Dear friends, indeed, “In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.”

In the Church, “He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers,” thus restoring to us our bygone innocence and our paradise lost.  “On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ.  This is most certainly true.”

This is the work of our Helper, the Holy Spirit, who came at Pentecost, tearing down the linguistic walls between men (which began at Babel) and shattering the self-imposed boundary between mankind and God (which began at Eden).

Our Lord taught us what it meant to be truly human, in His life, preaching, teaching, and most of all, in His supreme act of love on the cross and in His glorious resurrection from the dead at the tomb.  And the expression, “God isn’t finished with me yet” was most certainly true as our Lord Jesus Christ promised yet another revelation of God, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, whom He promised would be sent to us. 

He came to “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.”  These are all things that we had lost touch with in our universal human amnesia concerning the God who created us, redeems us, and sanctifies us.  And our Lord had much more to say, but we could not bear them at that time.  As our Lord said, “When the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come.”

Dear friends, our Father is merciful!  He has created each one of us; He has seen to it that each one of us has received the Word and promise of redemption in Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit in Holy Baptism, and He continues to come to us in the Word of Absolution, in the Gospel, and in the ongoing feast of the Holy Supper.  He has enlightened us to receive this promise and given us the gift of faith in His Word.  We poor miserable sinners, now forgiven sinners, are once more in communion with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Because of the Father’s love begotten in the Son, and the sending of the Holy Spirit, “who proceeds from the Father and the Son,” we are able to relearn who God is, who our brothers and sisters in Christ are, and what it means to be a human being, to be truly human as we were meant to be, and to live forever in Christ’s kingdom, “and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness,” now and forevermore.  “This is most certainly true.”  Amen.

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

Hison the sickness of sinto the next - and d w liars and sons of the devil, tament, a bloodye people on In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

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