Emmitsburg Council of Churches


The Holy Gospel according to St. John 14:23-29

Jesus answered him, "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. 14:24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me. 14:25 "I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 14:26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. 14:28 You heard me say to you, 'I am going away, and I am coming to you.' If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 14:29 And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.

This is the Gospel of the Lord . . . Praise to You O Christ!

Did you hear the news this morning?

This is a dialog sermon for two people, if you would like to use it at your church, you may easily adapt a few lines for your congregational setting, please write me for permission–(thanks for that). We did it at Elias a few Sunday's prior to the now famous visit by Pr John George Bager*, who arrived on horseback right out of 1757! We do a lot of different kinds of things at Elias . . . Come and join us for worship some Sunday, or write to me to introduce yourself. The Peace of the Lord be with you Always, Pr Jon.

L. Did you hear the NEWS this morning?

J. No, I was too busy fretting about what will happen if my horse* gets spooked by a snake crossing the road when we have that service out at Toms Creek a few Sundays from now.

L. Well . . . put Your worries aside! There are much more serious things to be concerned about than some "Old Tom Snake" Crossing the Road in front of your horse! . . . . There's a very troubled world out there!

J. What do you mean?

L. Didn't you Hear of the terrible flooding along the Missouri River? Didn't you Read about the devastating Tornado that destroyed Greenberg, Kansas? . . . Didn't you See those awful Forest Fires in California, Georgia and Florida too? What about the Earthquakes in Japan?!

J. Well, Yea, You're right, my fears about snakes spooking my horse at the upcoming re-enactment service are pretty silly compared to these Calamities. Sometimes I'd rather not think about negative things–it's just too overwhelming . . . .

L. Depressing is more accurate–I'd say! I wonder how the pets faired in that tornado?? I mean, like where could they have gone to escape the over 200 mph whirlwind! I sure hope someone is rescuing the cats from those flood waters?

J. You're right, Poor kitties, dogs too! I read that a whole herd of cattle was being swept down the river by the flood waters ---- sure hope they found dry ground. The farmers must be really worried about harvesting the Grains, let alone planting summer crops – and now it's too wet! So many things to worry about for folks out there.

L. Speaking of the Farmers . . . What about the Bees??! Did you know that more than a 1/4 of the world's Honeybee Colonies just disappeared over the winter months?! And the scientists still don't know why?

J. Did you say there's something wrong with the "Birds and the Bees??!" Boy, I hope nothing's gone wrong with that! That would really be scary!

L. No silly! I said HONEY BEES!!

J. Well your right, that is serious, I mean we could face a food shortage. We need Bees to pollinate the trees and vegetables, like watermelons and the apple trees.

L. I hate to even mention the other things that keep me up at night:

The War in Iraq, the cost of Medicine and Insurance . . . . Did I mention that my car wouldn't start this morning>??

J. Actually, no, So sorry to hear you're having car trouble!

L. You know what they say, when it rains – it pours!!

J. Don't mention it! I may have a leak in my roof and water in the basement!! Or the summer may bring a drought . . . unfortunately it seems it's one way or the other.

L. Boy, all this heartache and suffering, Didn't Jesus have something to say to us when we face calamities and difficult times?

J. H'mmm . . . let me see here (flipping through the Bible) . . . This is God's Word, and there must be some kind of instructions for getting through tough times. That reminds me of a preacher I once heard who said something like, "Tough times never last, but tough people do!"

L. That sounds like Rev. Robert Schuler, you know, I heard him talk about a time when his family lost their Whole Farm to a tornado, Rev. Schuler said, there was absolutely nothing left! But somehow he got back on his feet and His ministry is world renown!

J. (flipping more pages) Must be some Promises in here somewhere about what we should do in Times Like These.

L. How about when Jesus said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid." (John 14:27b)

J. That Sounds encouraging, and you know, the people of the Bible surely experienced many hardships and difficulties.

L. I've always been able to relate to Job's story of suffering, . . . even the roof off my barn blew off last summer and the livestock ran away!

J. In Job's story even his family and friends deserted him and he was left to feel completely alone. Sometimes his story becomes ours . . . , even though it seems like we're doing well on the outside – inside we're not . . . . Have you ever felt like that?

L. I Don't want to talk about it!! (Then thoughtfully) . . . . You know, That Job must have had remarkable faith! He trusted God even when it seemed God turned against him. Maybe this was how The Jewish people and the Early Christians felt when they were persecuted??

J. You're exactly right, like when, in the year 70, the Romans invaded Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple – That was like the end of the world!!

L. (Sarcastically) . . . Kind of sounds like the way things are going Today! ---- What did the People Do back then to deal with their fears and worries??

J. The Book of Revelation gives us part of the answer.

L. Oh spare me! That Book of Revelation is just MORE doom and gloom. You know -- Martin Luther didn't like it much and I'm not sure I care for it either!

J. Your right about Luther's distaste for Revelation, he didn't like it because the writing is so full of imagery. Luther preferred writings where the Good News about Jesus love and God's Grace was more clearly presented.

L. Amen to that!!

J. But consider for a moment the feelings of the Early Christians who listened to the words from Revelation: "21:22 I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 22:5 And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever."

L. Sounds like they were learning that God would be with them–even if the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed . . . .

J. Yes, and you know the Temple used to be covered with pure Gold, so when the Sun shined on it, it used to light up – "Like the Sun" . . . and so when there was no more Temple== the people must have felt like they were living in the Darkest of Days– without the Temple shining any more in the city of Jerusalem . . . they must have felt abandoned by God. . . those were fearful times. But the Revelation from John was saying that they could now rely completely on God to be their Light and to Show them the Way to go and tell them what to do.

L. This makes sense to me. I guess that when we become most fearful, our tendency is to want to run and hide. But Jesus wants to encourage us "Not to be afraid," but to keep following his leading.

J. I think it's true that we usually know what to do when things are going wrong. But too often we don't have the courage to get on with what needs to be done in order to move on to a better future -- filled with hope and accomplishment. But with Faith, we can get going!

L. I "Get" that God becomes our light in the darkness, but all the violence in the world upsets me so much. Can Jesus help me when I feel anxious about the situations other people find themselves in??

J. This is really a hard question, but it kind of goes with the Gospel lesson for today. Jesus is telling the church that he will soon be Ascending to be with the Father. At the same time, he tells the Christians not to have fear, because he will still be with them. As he says this, I think he is encouraging them to get on with living into the kingdom life he was teaching about. The present despair of the world will pass, but Christ holds our glorious future. It's as simple as believing in the resurrected Christ and then doing what Jesus said to do, that is, loving others, not resorting to hatred and retribution, but LIVING the better example.

L. This is starting to make some sense, but if God is present in the Good and the Bad of life – I still don't know if I can trust this God.

J. Maybe that's why Jesus wanted his followers to know that he was going to be with the Father in Heaven, but that God would still be with us through the Words of Holy Scripture, the Spirit's Presence, and the Church itself.

L. Maybe Jesus realized that We need to know he is with us in every trial of life – and so he created the Church so we would support and encourage each other??

J. This is exactly what Jesus wanted us to experience. Jesus knew that the Church would become a kind of Refuge. A body of believers that would uphold and strengthen each other.

L. Seems to me that as we become stronger in faith and not fearful, then we will find it within ourselves to go out and start addressing the physical issues and societal challenges.

J. Yes, this is what God wants. The Church is to become like the Inn where the Good Samaritan took the wounded man, it is the place of healing, and then living and learning the ways of Jesus in order to be about the kingdom. Isaiah talked about the People of God becoming the "Fixers of broken walls and repairers of crumbling cities." We can envision ourselves as God's instruments working for Good in a troubled world.

L. I sure would like to help with the Honey Bee Problem!

J. And I would like to see a peaceful meeting of all those who keep fighting in the Middle East . . . . maybe they could understand one another and stop the violence. Killing and hatred is NOT what God created us for, it is all Evil and Satan is laughing all the while!

L. With God as our Light, showing us the way . . . we can solve the world's problems!!

J. Sounds like the Spirit is working on us! Let us Pray and ask Jesus to lift us from despair and inspire us to his Service:


Lord Jesus, we do have many fears, We become overwhelmed by the problems of the world, including our Own. Come to us as a guiding Light. Fill us with inspiration to live completely for you. Show us how to be courageous in serving you, The Creation, and all People. May Your Church Shine brightly for all people to see and may our lives be as a witness of love in the world. Amen

L. Amen

Read more writings of Pastor Jon