O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Goodbye, or yet a little while?
"Goodbye, or yet a little while?"
Based on John 14:15-21
Preached on May 29, 2011
Fellow baptized saints and children of the heavenly Father, how do you fair with goodbyes? I'm not talking about, goodbye hunny, see you when I get home from work, or goodbye mom, see you when I get home from school. I'm talking about goodbyes. The ones you know are coming because everyone gets a little weird. The ones that make all your senses heightened because you know you will not see someone for a very long time, and all of a sudden you really want to get the most out of them. The ones that leave an odd, empty space in the day. A silence. A hollowness that seems to follow you. How do you fair with these kind of goodbyes?
In our Gospel reading, Jesus and His disciples are experiencing one of those moments. Their senses are heightened, the language being used is different, and the anticipation of that empty space looms over them. They are afraid that they will lose their Lord, and nothing will be able to fill their loneliness. Jesus knows that His disciples are worried. He knows that they are concerned and feel uncertain about the future, so He lays forth a host of promises to comfort them. He says, "I will not leave as orphans; I will come to you." He says, "Because I live, you also will live." He says, "The Father will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth." Jesus says a lot of things, but one of the things He does not say is goodbye. He is not leaving them. There is not going to be a large distance between Him and His disciples. Goodbye is not the right word for Jesus to use this night.
How do you feel when you hear about Jesus and His disciples? Does your heart immediately jump to an empty hole you don't want anyone to know about? Loneliness is a hole we all feel from time to time. Some of us can get lost in it. But in a certain way, each of us feels alone. We are concerned about the future. We worry that we may be alone forever. That we may die alone. And this is the most terrifying thought imaginable. We frantically search for friends, spouses, significant others, partners, or anyone we can find. You know you need something, but you don't know what it is. Perhaps you feel alone because there is no one to talk to, no one to trust, no one to love. Or perhaps you feel alone because it seems there is no one to love you.
Dearly beloved, God has a very important message for you this morning. You may be frantically trying to fill a hole that only God can fill. You may be trying to make your friend or spouse or loved one promise you that they will never say goodbye, that nothing will ever take them from you. But that is not a promise they can make. That is not a hole that they can fill. Only God fits there, and He can promise that He will never say goodbye. Christ promises "I will not leave as orphans; I will come to you." He promises, "Because I live, you also will live." He promises, "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth." God can take away your loneliness in a way that nobody else can. He knows what you need, what you are looking for, because He made you. He made you to be fulfilled in Him. He wants to be your Rock. He wants to be your strength, your fortress. He wants to hear what is on your mind in prayer. He wants you to trust Him and His Holy Word. He wants you to love Him.
And yet the most beautiful part is that He is the perfect one to love because He will never leave you. He will never hurt you – He will never turn His back on you, cease from speaking to you, get angry with you, tell you He is too tired, have a bad day or whatever else may keep Him from being everything you need in every moment. How can you be certain of this? Because your God came down from heaven. He entered the pit of loneliness with you. He died on a cross to make you right with Him, and He came back to life so that He could be with you forever. Nothing can separate you from His love. Nothing can take Him away from you. "You know Him, for He dwells with you and is in you."
He came to you on a day like today. For today, little Rylee is baptized. The Father has given her another Helper to be with her forever, even the Spirit of truth. But the mystery of Holy Baptism is greater even than this. For while you certainly receive the Holy Spirit in the washing of Holy Baptism, the entire Trinity comes to dwell in you. The Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is spoken upon you. As Jesus says in our text, "In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you." You are not alone, in fact, there is a Holy Party going on within you. The entire Trinity is with you, and in hearing this preaching today, you are reminded that God has been with you since your baptism. Each person of the Trinity is with you, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each is watching you. Each is protecting you. Each is guiding you. There are no goodbyes with God. He is always with you.
So, how does this relationship remain your Rock from day to day? How do you live in your baptism with the Holy Trinity and overcome the loneliness of this world? Surprisingly enough, it is like any relationship. It grows by spending time together. By communicating with one another. By being open with one another. God has revealed Himself in His Holy Word, our Lord Jesus Christ. He wants us to hear Him speak everyday. God has also invited us to pray to Him, that He may hear our joys and our troubles everyday. He speaks and we listen. We speak and He listens. There is no room for loneliness. And as we are focused on Him, He may be pleased to bring someone else into our life to share in that relationship with Him. But He will always be the focus, He will always be your God.
And while we long to see Him face to face. He says, "Yet a little while and you will see me." In the meantime, share this precious meal with me. Feast on me, my body and blood, that we may be united in a closeness that is deeper than this world. Feast on me, so that I can remove all of your concerns, heal all of your wounds and fill that hole of loneliness. You are forgiven for all that you have done. And you will share this meal with me again - when we can see each other face to face. "Yet a little while and you will see me." In Jesus' name, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr