Monday, May 9, 2016

Sermon May 7-8, 2016

Title: Love, the gift of God in Christ
Text: John 17 20-26

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,

22b that they may be one even as we are one,

26b that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis wrote, "Do not waste your time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbor … act as if you did. As soon as [you] do this, you find [a] great secret. When you [behave] as if you loved someone you will come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will dislike him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less."

Our Daily Bread, February 14.

Jesus in his High Priestly Prayer in John 17 prays for not only those who believe in him but for those who will believe in me through their word.

It is the desire of our Lord that we be united to him even as he and the Father are one. [Vs 22]

23 I in them and you in me, [Christ in us] that they [you and me] may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

Love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

As we celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend we also know that Godly mothers also love those of us who sin much but also this may include God- mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and yes – in the absence of a mother – fathers, uncles, grandfathers and the like.

I would like to share with you the story of a teacher, Miss Thompson.


Ted Stallard undoubtedly qualifies as the one of "the least." [He was] turned off by school; very sloppy in appearance; expressionless, and unattractive. Even his teacher, Miss Thompson, enjoyed bearing down her red pen -- as she placed Xs beside his many wrong answers.

If only she had studied his records more carefully. 

They read:

1st grade: Ted shows promise with his work and attitude, but (has) a poor home situation.
2nd grade: Ted could do better. His mother is seriously ill and he receives little help from home.
3rd grade: Ted is good boy but too serious. He is a slow learner. His mother died this year.
4th grade: Ted is very slow, but well-behaved. His father shows no interest whatsoever.

Christmas arrived. The children [brought] elaborately wrapped gifts on their teacher's desk. Ted brought one too. It was wrapped in brown paper and held together with Scotch Tape. Miss Thompson opened each gift, as the children crowded around to watch. Out of Ted's package fell a [broken] rhinestone bracelet, with half of the stones missing, and a bottle of cheap perfume. The children began to snicker. But she silenced them by splashing some of the perfume on her wrist, and letting them smell it. She put the bracelet on too.

At day's end, after the other children had left, Ted came by the teacher's desk and said, "Miss Thompson, you smell just like my mother. And the bracelet looks real pretty on you. I'm glad you like my presents." He left. Miss Thompson got down on her knees and asked God to forgive her and to change her attitude.

The next day, the children were greeted by a [changed] teacher -- one committed to loving each of them. Especially the slow ones. Especially Ted. Surprisingly -- or maybe, not surprisingly, Ted began to show great improvement. He actually caught up with most of the students and even passed a few.
Time came and went. Miss Thompson heard nothing from Ted for a long time. Then, one day, she received this note:

Dear Miss Thompson:

I wanted you to be the first to know. I will be graduating second in my class.

Love, Ted

Four years later, another note arrived:

Dear Miss Thompson:

They just told me I will be graduating first in my class. I wanted you to be first to know. The university has not been easy, but I liked it.

Love, Ted

And four years later:

Dear Miss Thompson:

As of today, I am Theodore Stallard, M.D. How about that? I wanted you to be the first to know. I am getting married next month, the 27th to be exact. I want you to come and sit where my mother would sit if she were alive. You are the only family I have now; Dad died last year.

Miss Thompson attended that wedding, and sat where Ted's mother would have sat. The compassion she had shown that young man entitled her to that privilege.

Jon Johnston, Courage - You Can Stand Strong in the Face of Fear, 1990, SP Publications, pp. 111-113.

Love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

All of us who have lost our earthly mothers joy in the faith given to them by the Holy Spirit as I do my own mother Eleanor Tkac and Monica’s mother Jeanne Comins. True blessings come in different ways. Both loved Jesus and his comfort and promise of his forgiveness and an eternity with him and those they also love. It is Christ’s desire that they be with him where he is and this is the comfort that we who remain cling to. That where Christ is there Love is and where Love is there is also those who by faith trust in him and his word of promise.

Earthly mothers who have believed and who also love their children also pray like Jesus that their children may also believe and be united to Christ. For those who have not been blessed with godly mothers God provides for all our needs by those who stand in their place - or it is God’s desire that none be lost.

This past Thursday was the celebration of the Ascension of our Lord, where Jesus returns to the right hand of God mediating our prayers to the Father. It is Jesus who both prays for us and hears our prayers. It is he who lived a sinless life in our place and died for us so that we might be saved.

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,

22b that they may be one even as we are one,

26b that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

It is through the love of Christ that we can love and be loved. May that comfort be your now and always.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.


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