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“Who Is Your Advocate?” “Who Is Your Advocate?”

Altar paraments from a church in New Zealand
Altar paraments from a church in New Zealand
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“Who Is Your Advocate?”

Posted on Mon, May 25, 2015

John 15:26-27; 16:4-15

May 25, 2015

Pentecost Sunday – “Who Is Your Advocate?”

 

Gospel Text: John 15:26-27; 16:4-15

26 ‘When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. 27 You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.

 

The Work of the Spirit

‘I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, “Where are you going?” 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; 11 about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.

12 ‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

 

 

This week I found myself wondering the relevancy of the church. What are we doing and why? I understand and very thankful that what we proclaim and do is done under the authority of God, but from where does our guidance, power, understanding, patience and dedication to “Doing God’s Justice and Mercy” come from?

 

Every week we read another major article on how churches are shrinking, and many people find church boring or not relevant to their lives. My perspective may be a little myopic, but I fail to see this occurring here at Calvary by the Sea Lutheran Church. I was thankful to finally read an article (forwarded to me by some of you), that states how young people have been fed up with the production and market-based “tell you how to live” mega-churches, and they are looking for a more spiritual experience with reverence and spiritual content.

 

Frankly, I am not so sure times have changed so much since the time of Jesus resurrection and now. The “Mega-church” in Jesus day was the constantly bustling gold encrusted temple in Jerusalem, and along comes this donkey riding Jesus of Nazareth who is able to interpret the prophesies of old through forgiveness, mercy to the poor and spiritually lost, justice for the persecuted and outcast, the proclamation that God is alive, and the good news that Jesus will soon be sending us an “Advocate.” The people have seen Jesus say and do amazing things, including rising from the dead, but he makes it clear, He must go so that they can receive the Advocate, the Holy Spirit and become the Body of Christ, the Church on Earth.

 

What happened with the birth of the Christian Church and how is, or was, their experience so different than ours?  

 

In Matthew, Jesus promises to “be with us to the end of the age.” In today’s Gospel you can see how the Trinity is viewed, and Jesus’ promise will be fulfilled when he sends the Holy Spirit or the Advocate to lead and strengthen us for all time.

 

But before Jesus sends the Advocate, Jesus orders the disciples to stay in Jerusalem to wait and pray. Jesus orders us to pray constantly and wait with patience for God’s answer. Then the Holy Spirit comes, and they receive understanding about the Truth about Jesus’ Mission for them, but Luke makes it clear that the message of the Gospel is to be preached to all people in all languages. Then, once they have the power and truth provided through the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, they are sent out from Jerusalem and the very first “sermon” Peter preaches is to the people of Israel, and anyone listening, instructs us to repent of our rejection of our Savior, their Messiah, who gave his life on the cross as a ransom for our sins. He cuts right to the center of Jesus’ message to the people who were supposed to welcome and believe him, but instead where the reason Jesus had to give his life… Peter’s message hit home because it is written in Acts 2 “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers,* what should we do?’ 38 Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” … And they were baptized! Good start for a rookie!

 

And then, as Peter and John returned to the temple, they met a beggar who couldn’t walk. I am sure they weren’t expecting to do what they were about to do, but that is the ministry is, you can make plans, but never expect them to go the way you expect them to be followed. Peter and John healed the man, and not only did he walk away, the Bible says, he was so happy he was, “walking and leaping and praising God.”

 

So the new church, began in prayer and faithful waiting, the Holy Spirit empowered them to proclaim the Good News of God in ways they never dreamed. They proclaimed repentance and forgiveness, and then they went out and began to heal like Jesus did. The response to being physically, mentally or spiritually healed is to give thanks in praise… and this worship!

 

When I look at the works of Calvary by the Sea Lutheran Church, this story sure sounds familiar to me.  We begin with worship, confessing our sins and hearing that through the Cross of Christ we are forgiven. We worship, pray and give thanks in song, dance and sharing our gifts. We are blessed and sent out as Ambassadors for Christ, feeding the hungry, caring for the troubled, educating our children, getting involved with the social issues of our island through FACE, we support missionaries sharing God’s compassion all over the world and so much more!

 

One thing I have learned in being your pastor is that once the Holy Spirit plants some seed with a cause or purpose in your hearts, my job is to get out of your way and be your first and foremost cheerleader!!

 

I see the Gospel come alive when we allow that Holy Spirit to move us to serve those who have yet heard the Gospel, or have been touched through the mercy and justice of Angel Network, Stephen Ministers, our choir, school, and so many other blessings.

 

It’s your birthday church! You have a powerful Advocate just waiting to stir our hearts in the joy, hope and love of Christ each and everyday. What is most exciting is that just like Peter and John coming across a man that they were able to heal, we have no idea where or to whom, this Advocate, the Holy Spirit will lead us! Ministry is truly an adventure! Amen. 

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