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A Love Par Excellence

This is the message I preached Sunday, 5/22 at St. Timothy and St. Mark Lutheran Churches. The scripture text was  John 16:12-15.

Today’s gospel text made me scratch my head. Today, we celebrate the Holy Trinity, but this passage’s emphasis on the Holy Spirit sounds more like Pentecost. After digging a bit deeper, my light bulb came on.

Jesus taught his disciples about the role of the Holy Spirit in relationship to the Father and to himself. Just as the Christian life is all about relationship to God, relationship to each other and relationship to our community, so the Holy Trinity lives and works in relationship and community.

In the final verses of today’s gospel, we get a clearer picture of this text’s bearing on the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Jesus taught his disciples that the Holy Spirit does not act independently of the Father or the Son. The Holy Spirit glorifies Christ and only reveals what comes from the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit is not a lone ranger.

What qualities go into making a relationship successful and healthy? What does it take to make it work?  Any ideas? Just go ahead and shout out your thoughts on thisHere are five synonyms that describe the nature of a good relationship. They are collaboration, communication, mutuality, cooperation and accord. Let’s look at the definitions of each of these words. 

Collaboration is to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor. Communication is a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior. Mutuality is a sharing of common sentiments or beliefs Cooperation is an act or instance of working together for a common purpose or benefit and accord is to be in agreement or harmony with one or more individuals.

In the Holy Trinity, there is the mutuality of God within the three persons of the Trinity and God invites us into this communion through Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. The mutuality of the Holy Trinity models the accord God desires us to have with each other.

Our lives demonstrate this by guiding, speaking and declaring to one another the glory of God our Father and Creator, the love of Jesus the Son and Redeemer and the teaching of the Holy Spirit our Sanctifier.

Over the centuries, people have tried to understand the trinity using many different illustrations. However, our understanding of the mystery of the trinity is limited by our finite humanity. Any attempt to explain infinite mystery always falls short.

In todays gospel, Jesus taught his disciples that the Holy Spirit would help them interpret and apply his teachings to future situations they would encounter in life. Jesus could have spelled out in very great detail what his teaching was for each and every situation. However, like us, Jesusdisciples could only handle so much information at one time. The disciples would have exactly what they needed when they needed it and not a moment before.

This reminds me of a conversation Corrie Ten Boom had with her father, related in her book, The Hiding Place. Corrie Ten Boom was a Dutch Christian who along with her family hid Jews in their home during World War II and subsequently spent time in a German concentration camp. Corrie relates the story this way:

Corrie,[my father] began gently. When you and I go to Amsterdam, when do I give you your ticket?” “Why, just before we get on the train.” “Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we're going to need things, too. Don't run out ahead of him, Corrie. When the time will look into your heart and find the strength you need just in time.(Corrie Ten Boom, The Hiding Place)  

Jesus also taught his disciples that the Holy Spirit would “guide [them] into all truth” and “declare to [them] the things that are to come” (v. 13). Does that mean the disciples would know the future? Hardly.

We have seen all kinds of people doing strange things because God supposedly told them to. All we have to do is look at the news.

Yet in spite of misunderstanding by some and abuse by others; dare we abandon the conviction that God’s Holy Spirit continues to guide and enlighten the church? The present time we live in is every bit as much God’s time as it was when Jesus walked on this earth.

We speak about not putting God in a box. Jesus’ teachings are not locked up in the past for his disciples. God’s word is living and active and speaks to us TODAY in our world too. Otherwise, what would be the point of gathering together for worship, prayer, receiving the sacraments, and reading scripture?

Fred B. Craddock, Preaching Through the Christian Year: Year C
Lucy Lind Hogan,

Brian Stoffregen,

Please forgive the text that's underlined. It will not let me change it.


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