Pastor John Roberts
Bringing Christ Home
I stood in my father’s hospital room and looked at him.
He had already been in a coma for two days. There would be four more.
I wanted him to wake up. Yes, because I wanted him to come back to us alive and healthier.
But also because it had been awhile since I had said “I love you.”
I tried to remember when it was that I had said those words to him.
My father and I were very different men.
Neither of us said those words to the other very often.
I said them to my mother often but dad was just not that kind of man.
At least that’s what I kept telling myself.
He didn’t wake up though.
And I have regretted not saying those tender words enough to him ever since.
My twin sons never got to know either of my parents.
But I did my best to tell them about their grandparents;
who they were and how I think they would have loved them so dearly.
And to this day, every conversation my sons and I have with each other
ends with those words I never got to say to my dad one more time.
I love you.
The words of today’s Gospel reading come from the last days Jesus had with his disciples
before his arrest and crucifixion.
Again and again, Jesus warns them that there will be a time soon when he will not be with them.
Again and again, he tells them to love one another.
Love one another just as he loved them.
Love one another like a servant who washes feet.
Love one another so much that you’re willing to lay down your life for one another because there
will be times when you can’t love one another.
Every year the Church makes us examine those times when the love and peace of God are interrupted
by loneliness, fear, or even despair.
The two great festivals of God’s beauty and power, Easter and Pentecost,
are separated by the Ascension of the Risen Jesus.
For the disciples, it must have felt a bit like God had been teasing them
with the presence of the Risen Jesus.
They’d gotten through the doubts they all had shared at the beginning with Thomas.
They finally believed that it was their Jesus who had led them to the
shores of Galilee to have breakfast with them.
They were beginning to feel comfortable to have him appear and then disappear and appear again.
But on the mountain of Ascension, they were told by the angels that they would never see him again.
They tried hard to remember those stories Jesus told them about the coming of the Holy Spirit.
But they knew that hadn’t happened yet.
For 10 days, Jesus was just absent. God was absent. They were lonely again.
Fear started to crack their faith again.
They were in between the good, faith-filled, beautiful and powerful times.
We know all about those in-between times;
the time between careers, between homes, between jobs, between relationships,
between healthy and healthy again; the time between the simple faith of our Sunday School childhood
and the complicated, sometimes doubting yet strong adult faith we have now;
the time between the certainties of yesterday and the promises of tomorrow.
We know what it’s like…….. to know that we have faith……. and yet to fear inserting our faith into daily life situations.
Paul and his companions knew all about this too.
Armed with new Christian faith and the zeal he had always had for God,
Paul and his companions taught the Gospel throughout Asia Minor
but in the 3 verses preceding today’s First Reading, we are told that the Spirit of Jesus
kept them from going to Phrygia, Galatia and Mysia.
They went to Troas….and there Paul had the vision described in the First Reading.
“Come to Macedonia and help us,” the man in the vision said.
So Paul, and Timothy, and most likely Luke and probably a few other companions left immediately for Macedonia; through Samothrace and Neapolis to Philippi.
And on the Sabbath day, they went out by the river, where they had supposed there was a place of prayer
and met Lydia.
Now Lydia is described as “a worshipper of God……from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth.
The first detail tells us she was probably Jewish (there were many Jews who lived outside of Palestine).
The second detail tells us she was not at home but in the big city of Philippi probably to sell her purple cloth.
And that detail tells us she was probably somewhat wealthy.
A wealthy, Jewish woman is the first one in Macedonia to receive the good news about Jesus the Christ.
And she and her entire household were baptized.
And her home became home base for Paul and his companions.
She brought Christ home and from her home, Christ was brought home to hundreds.
I will not leave you lonely, Jesus told the disciples.
I will give you an Advocate with the Father.
I give you the peace which the world cannot give.
I am with you always to the ends of the earth.
I have prepared a place for you.
I am the way, the truth, the life.
I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me.
I am the vine……….you are the branches.
And you will love me and keep my word,
and my Father will love you, and we will come to you and make our home with you.
And that home will be here:
listening to the Word; sprinkled with baptismal water; fed at the heavenly table
with bread and wine, body and blood.
And that home will be in your homes and in your workplaces and in your schools.
And that home will be in the silence of your cars as you travel.
And that home will be in the homes of your relatives and your friends as
you share meals and laughter and tears and hope and comfort.
And that home will be in the hospital rooms of those you love, even those
you haven’t said “I love you” to in a very long time.
And because I make my home with you wherever you might be, Jesus says to us;
through whatever circumstances you experience;
you will have my peace, the peace which the world cannot give;
the peace which is oh so much more than the absence of strife;
it is holy; it is wholeness; it is like a city that has no need for sun or moon to shine on it,
for the glory of God is its light; and its lamp is the Lamb.
When you hear the last words of today’s liturgy, listen very carefully.
Go in peace, this peace that can only come from the Risen and Ascended Christ.
Share the Good News in all the places where the blessed and holy Trinity makes a home for you.
Go to your Macedonia to find your Lydia
and in the Spirit of the Risen Christ make a new home for God and God will make a new home for you.