Sermon for the Sixth Sunday of Easter

Proper C~May 9, 2010

Holy Trinity & St. Anskar

 

Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them,

and we will come to them and make our home with them.

 

C

+ In the Name of God, the Holy and Undivided Trinity,

 

oming down seems to be todayís theme: Coming down from above, from heaven, from God. John sees Jerusalem descending from heaven to earth; Jesus promises the disciples to send the Holy Spirit to teach us everything; the Collect prays God to fill our hearts with love from on high. But fantastic and grand as these images are, they are little compared to what I think of as the most amazing phrase in the entire bible:

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Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them,

and we will come to them and make our home with them.†††

 

This last coming down is a re-arrangement of the order of the cosmos: God no longer up there in unattainable splendor, but right here, now.

††††††††† In a way, this is the whole of the Gospel Ė the central theme of the Good News: God-with-us, the Incarnation. But now Emmanuel is not only the Person of Jesus Christ, because He announces that the Godhead is ready to move and to take up residence with anyone who loves Him.

Öwe will come to them and make our home with them.

The Lord God Almighty, the Ancient of Days, the Creator of the Universe is ready to make [His] home with us. This is the ultimate coming down.This is the good thing that surpasses our understanding in the words of the Collect. For it to happen, all we have to do is to keep Jesusí word. This is both easier and harder than it sounds.††††††††

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††††††††† We all know how hard it is, so I wonít go on about that. But it is also easy. You do it every day: whenever you forget yourself and think of God, whenever you forget yourself and act kindly toward someone else, you keep Jesusí words. And for that moment, the world is changed. For that moment, your heart is the New Jerusalem, the throne of God and of the Lamb. For that moment, the crystal River of life flows out of you, and the Tree of Life blooms anew by its water. For that moment, you donít have to wait or hope for heaven because you are already there. For that moment, you need no religion, because you are the City that has no Temple, for that moment your Temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb, Who, as Jesus promised, have come to you and made their home with you. Everyone has these experiences. They are like the seed sown by the Sower of the parable.Sometime they take root and flower, sometimes they donít. Life in the Spirit is cultivating them so that they multiply and take over your whole life. That is the hard part.

 

††††††††† But even that is easier than it seems, since it is not our job to do the cultivating. God does that. All we have to do is permit it. The key is in todayís Collect, where we pray God to pour into our hearts love toward God, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire. All we have to do is to trust the promise and open our hearts. That trust is the faith that saves us. Then the Love of God pours into our hearts and we come to Love One Who surpasses understanding. Since we cannot know or name that One, we resort to fantastic images, like the New Jerusalem. When our heart is filled with love toward God, Whom we cannot conceive, we love Him in all things. Every object, however ugly; every person, however deformed and wicked; every situation, however unjust and odious, is beloved, because we see God in all things. If there is anything wrong with the world, it is healed and perfected by this love. The reality of ugliness, deformity, wickedness, and injustice is of an order lower than the reality of the perfect beauty our hearts perceive when they are filled with the Love of God. When God has poured into our hearts such love toward Himself, we see things differently: we see everything as a mother sees her newborn child.

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††††††††† This vision is the promise that surpasses our understanding and exceeds all that we can desire. It is the peace that passes all understanding. This bliss is not a reward we get for loving God, it is the verylove of God itself, which God pours into the hearts of those who pray:

 

O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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AMEN!

CHRIST IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD, TRAMPLING DOWN DEATH BY DEATH, AND BESTOWING LIFE ON ALL IN THE TOMBS!