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    May 21, 2017

    Easter 6A, May 20-21, 2017, Christ Church, TR

    Preacher: The Rev. Joan Mason, Rector

    Series: Rector

    Category: Weekly Sermon


                    Our Collect this morning offers us a wonderful prayer.  It says, “Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises which exceed all that we can desire.”  In this prayer, we ask for help in loving God completely.  And then in doing so, we are told we will obtain unbelievable promises.  There are such good things that we can obtain that surpass our understanding.  Can you imagine how good they must be?  One of these good things that’s promised us is found in today’s Gospel – the promise that God will come and live inside of us; the Holy Spirit dwelling within each of us.

                    Have you thought about God living inside of you?  Maybe you’re even wondering if that’s something you’d want.  It’s a strange thing to picture God being our guest.  So strange is this divine desire that we may fight it or ignore it, trying to keep God at a cold distance.

                     But there are promises that come with God’s presence - good things; promises that are so wonderful we can’t even fathom what they might be.  With God living inside, we would be more Christ-like; would function more as Jesus would; maybe loving others like Christ would; being more like the image of God.  That could certainly change our lives for the good.  We’d experience more love, more joy, peace, patience, kindness.  All wonderful things.  So, “yes, God, come inside.”

                    Then we need to consider if there is any room inside for God.  How much available space is there?  Our inside home may be filled from floor to ceiling, jammed with all manner of stuff that has collected there:  preoccupations, attachments and resentments that crowd the space where God would be.  Or our inside home may be loaded from floor to ceiling with ourselves; so full of ourselves that we leave no room for God.  Maybe we’re not working the program with an addiction; maybe we’re gossiping or breaking other down with comments; or maybe our inside is just filled with junk --- like the cluttered drawer where we store all those things we might need one day.  If we want God to come inside so we can receive God’s good promises, we need to clean out and make room.

                    So… let’s say we do that.  It’s all cleaned out (or at least straightened up a bit) and we invite God in.  Our life in Christ does not end there.  It is not simply welcoming God in and reaping the benefits.  God expects more from us.  Today’s Gospel begins with Jesus saying to his disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”  Jesus does not simply ask his followers to speak of their love for him.  He wants them to show love by living a consistent life based on his commandments.  It’s a life of obedience to our Lord.  That kind of life would be impossible to lead without help, so Jesus does not leave them there.  He says to them, “I will ask the Father and He will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever…..I will not leave you orphaned.”  He sends the Holy Spirit as their guide and support.  The Disciples are not being left with only the resources they can muster up themselves.  They now have the Holy Spirit living inside.  That’s God living inside of us; already there.  Therefore, we can call on God to help us live this life we are supposed to live.

                     God also gives us another gift to help support and encourage us.  The Church!!  When the Church is operating at its best, it is an open, supportive and welcoming Body of Christ.  We encourage each other, and at the same time we are being changed and transformed by the same Spirit.  So we do not have to walk this path along.  No matter what we are facing, no matter what problems, grief, or difficulties we are facing in any aspect of our lives, Jesus shows us the direction to follow.

                      This cleaning out, this making room will involve some change.  Jesus does expect us to change our behavior.  We adopt an attitude of obedience to Jesus in all phases of life.  That means Jesus wants us to demonstrate our love for him by living a life of love.

                     I invite you to take a moment and think about your life, and your life choices.  Think about those areas of your life that may need to be changed in order to walk closer to Jesus Christ.  I invite you to think of one thing you could be working on this week.  Do you need to be doing some spring cleaning to make room for God?  Have you even asked God to come in?  Or do you need some help from the Holy Spirit to live the life example that Jesus sets for us?  Think of one thing you could be working on this week. ... (pause)

                    I would like to offer a prayer now to help you with the change you have identified.  There may be one person here who would like to pray this prayer.  For the sake of that one person, I invite you all to bow your heads.  If you would like to say this prayer, just pray it along with me silently in your own heart.

                      Let us pray:  Lord Jesus Christ, you are so amazing.  You have prepared for me such good things that I cannot even imagine them.  I am ready.  I invite you to step into my life; to come and live within me.  Bring your Holy Spirit and clean out the clutter, the stuff, so I have more room for you.  Help me to take steps to live closer to your image for me.  And then Lord, bless me with all that you promise; those promises that exceed what I can imagine or what I can desire.  Surround me with the support and encouragement that I need to continue on this journey.  I thank you Lord for loving me that much.   In your name I pray, Amen.