And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:16 – 17
Jesus said this as He looks forward to His Ascension. He knew He would be physically separated from His disciples. They wouldn’t be able to see Him but He wanted them to know they were not abandoned. The same is true of us today.
The Lord is not visible to us today and we are separated from one another by today’s circumstances. So the Lord’s words come to us “the Father… Will give you another Helper, even the Spirit of truth.” God’s Holy Spirit is with us and keeps us connected.
The spirit is there for us in the Bible, God’s written Word. He meets us they are each time we read it or hear it. So the Spirit dwells with us and from our baptism He dwells in us.
In the same way, Jesus is with you. He is the Word made flesh (John 1:1, 14) and the written Word and the Word made flesh are inseparable. The Lord our God is with you and in you and ready to hear your prayers.
Similarly, Jesus is with us through His body the Church. Though we can’t be together the way we would like, we are still connected by our Lord. Brothers and sisters in Christ we are still bound together by faith in Him. As a congregation, St. Paul’s is still working to provide word and sacrament ministry in the Divine Service and individually upon request. We are ready to provide help as resources allow and needs are known. Please talk with one of the pastors we will do our best to apply the resources we have. As the body of Christ we want to try our best to help in time of need. We are truly bound together in Him.
The Lord dwells with us and is in us,
Do you like to hear and to tell stories? Most people do. We tell lots of stories as part of our conversations. We tell stories of things we have done and said. We tell the story of things that happened around us and we tell stories that were told to us. These stories give us joy. Have you thought about what an important role the story plays at church?
Though many stories are told around here, the Church is here to tell just one story, Jesus’ story. The Church is here to tell the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. We are here to tell the story of why He had to come and what a blessing it is that He did. Jesus’ story is the story we are to tell, to share with each other, our family, our friends and especially with those who have not heard it. But how do we do that? What would we say? Well it is what the Church is here to tell you, so think about how that is done. Think about the church year and how it tells the story of Jesus and of our salvation each year.
Let’s quickly walk through it to get your thoughts started. The church year begins with Advent, the season of waiting. How the people waited for and longed for their Savior to come and how we wait for our Savior to return. Then Christmas and the Savior is born. Jesus comes as a human, to take our place under the law, and as divine, in order that He can fulfill the law for us. We have a great need and Jesus comes to meet that need. In Epiphany He reveals Himself, and God the Father speaks on His behalf. Jesus reveals His divine power in His miracles. He reveals that God is active here among us. He is the beloved Son of God.
Then there is Lent, when we are shown our great need for our Savior and the forgiveness of sins that He comes to secure for us. This comes clearest on Good Friday when we see the punishment our Lord took for our sin and on Maundy Thursday when Jesus distributes that forgiveness along with His body and blood for us to eat and to drink. Then we celebrate His resurrection. God the Father declares Jesus’ work sufficient and accepted and us free in His sight. Jesus shows Himself alive and tells His church to share His story. Then He ascends to the right hand of God to be our advocate with the Father.
The church year takes us through Jesus’ story each year. In that way we hear it and learn it. We become more comfortable with it. We can use its outline to be ready to tell Jesus’ story to those who need to hear. We can use it to tell the whole story of our salvation or just one part that someone needs to hear at the time. We can begin at Christmas and tell Jesus’ whole life to someone who does not know Him, or simply remember that He is at the Father’s right hand and offer to pray for someone in need. So the Church is about Jesus’ story. We are here to be blessed by it and to share it and He is with us through it all.
Rev. Don Stock is the Associate Pastor at St. Paul's Ev. Lutheran Church in Munster, Indiana.
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