Text: John 16:23-33
33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Somerset Maugham, the English writer, once wrote a story about a janitor at St. Peter’s Church in London. One day a young vicar discovered that the janitor was illiterate and fired him. Jobless, the man invested his meager savings in a tiny bicycle shop, where he prospered, bought another, expanded, and ended up with a chain of bicycle stores worth several hundred thousand dollars. One day the man’s banker said, “You’ve done well for an illiterate, but where would you be if you could read and write?” “Well,” replied the man, “I’d be janitor of St. Peter’s Church in Neville Square."
Bits and Pieces, June 24, 1993, p. 23
Being the janitor of St. Peter’s Church was not a bad job, and working in the church – in whatever capacity – is not a bad job. Even owning a fleet of bicycle shops … is not a bad job and may also be fairly lucrative. But, being loved by the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and being made his child … well … that is something to celebrate.
Today/ tomorrow we celebrate the Lord’s work in the lives of two of his chosen - Alex Powell and Cassidy Thompson. Both born about the time my family and I came to Peace.
I seem to have known them forever … and over this past year, in confirmation class we got to know each other a little better. Boom! Or, that is how Alex answered in response to each right answer. Boom! It’s funny but joyful as well. But, maybe it was Cassidy’s donkey? Well, that was just the donkey they talked about as we studied the 10th commandment.
As Luther wrote:
You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his manservant or his maidservant, his Ox or Donkey, cattle, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
I told them that our Ox and donkey was today more likely your riding mower and family dog … but it became Cassidy’s donkey. So, along with not coveting Cassidy’s donkey we learned quite a few things together. Most importantly though we learned that in baptism these two were brought to faith by our heavenly Father through the washing of water by that word and by his Holy Spirit they have remained in that faith and have/will confirm that reality.
Jesus says in our gospel today:
Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.
And then clarifies:
26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.
Together in class we learned to pray to the Father in Jesus’ name using the acronym ACTS - Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. So we adore, confess, thank and ask God to supply all our needs in Jesus name.
Apart from me you can do nothing!
Jesus aid: 5I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
Jesus also said … but with God all things are possible.
24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”
Not … who then can be rich? But, who then can be saved?
26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matt 19:24-26
It is God who is active and who has given faith, through word and means. Alex being born on May 15 and Cassidy on May 16 of 2002 and reborn or born from above as God washed these children marking them as his own by water and the Spirit. Just as he has done for you and me marking us redeemed by Christ and keeping us in the one true faith now and forever.
Romans 11:17-18 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
17 But if some of the branches were broken off, while you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among them to share the richness [of the root and sap] of the olive tree, - That is Jesus
18 Do not boast over the branches and pride yourself at their expense. If you do boast and feel superior, remember it is not you that support the root, but the root [that supports] you.
Through baptism you have been grafted in and that is all a gift from our heavenly Father.
Our gospel lesson today concludes with these words from Jesus.
33 I have said these things to you, that in me [in Christ] you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
You and everyone who follows Christ will see the tribulation promised. There may be a time of falling away even and it will largely not be when times are good – when things seem to be well and going your way … a time of prosperity. That is when Satan … will sift you like wheat, as he did with St. Peter and the other disciples in Luke 22:31, when St. Peter denied the Lord three times … even saying that “he didn’t even know the man.”
You may see that time too, a time of falling away, a time of unbelief, a time of trusting the world and the flesh, and a time of doubt. And like Peter today you may think “Not me Lord!” being ready to go to prison and even death for your faith in Christ.
23 [That like] those others [the fallen branches, Jews], if they do not persist in [clinging to] their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again.
And so to you … who may fall away for a time … God has gift for us all and will work repentance in you and me and those we love, to draw you and to bring you back into his peace and to his sheepfold … not letting any to be snatched from the palm of his hand.
It is here where Christ promises to be, it is in his house where forgiveness and his true body and blood take away sins and strengthen faith. It is where the peace that passes all human understanding is, in a world of chaos and corruption. It is where Jesus calls, gathers and feeds his sheep.
God has opened your heart and has given you his word and faith to believe may it always be here where you fine his pavilion of rest.
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.