5/1/05, Easter 6-A
ince the Christian Life is more than a declaration, more than something we simply know about but a real event that we experience; our Christian Life becomes just that, a life, not a debate.
God is more interested in us as His dear children, living active persons whom He loves to love. He is interested in our daily lives and is not so much interested in hearing a debate about whether He exists. We know that He cares for us because He lives within us.
Or, as our old friend John the Beloved turns the analogy, God Abides within us as the precious Holy Spirit. And furthermore, we abide in Him.
What does it mean to abide?
Since it is Communion Sunday, we need to say that Abiding in Him could be called Communing with Him; Walking with Him and talking with Him as we open our thoughts to Him. Since all of us go around all day talking to ourselves as we make decisions and project what might happen next we might acknowledge God as a part of the conversation. As in driving a car, we are subconsciously aware of where we are in traffic and what that deranged driver ahead of us might do next. So, we include God's Spirit into the conversation. Fortunately you do not need to bow your head and close your eyes to be in communion with God, or you would become the deranged driver. He is just there, as close as your breath: Abiding in Him means to welcome Him into the conversation.
Flying back from Paris last week my seat turned out to be next to a Muslim. It was originally beside a Marilyn but she had to request an aisle seat so that she could stretch out her tired leg. So I was first put in a middle seat with two people to crawl over. Then a fellow requested to exchange seats to be by his wife and I ended up with this really nice Frenchman who was reared in France of longtime Muslim parents whose lineage was from the ancient expulsion of Muslims from Spain . I am sure that North West Airlines lost track of my seating. I read from my current best book. I wrote in my journal and thought about my sermon. We were served a big meal and I watched my seat mate as he watched me. He probably noticed my books and then asked if I were a priest. I said that in my denomination I was considered to be the equivalent of a priest. He then asked if I was subject to the Pope. I said not really but that the last Pope John Paul was an excellent leader and that I felt him to be a true believer. He had been to his first Catholic funeral and had seen Mel Gibson's “The Passion of the Christ,” motion picture, and our conversation grew deeper. He was leading me on; and, the Spirit of God was working inside of me. He finally asked if the Methodists had to pray through a Priest, and right there in the conversation is where I said that all any human being has to do to talk to God is to begin to call out to God and He will answer. I then said that Christians pray to God in Jesus' name; and that we do so because the Passion of Christ has created a means of forgiveness and a New Life. I briefly mentioned the Atonement of Christ. I felt that he understood and that he did not want to go any deeper right then so I did not push the conversation. But he will always remember our encounter and that there seemed to be a third party in our talking. Our encounter might be one of several others that will eventually bring him into communion with Jesus Christ. I hope so and feel privileged to have been God's vocal cords for a few critical moments.
Abiding is allowing the Holy Spirit in on our lives. Indeed, He is already there we just have to cease to ignore Him.
Some might ask, “How can even God track every conversation going on in the universe?” or, “How can He guide our souls in worship here in Carrollton and be at Peachtree Road and Mount Boaz too?” The amazing world of ever increasing Computer speed and capacity has given us some insight into the magnitude of the mind of God who flung the stars into place. God is bigger than all of the computers in the world linked together; and, He is small enough to be in Row 22, seat A on a North West Air- Bus on a Thursday afternoon out over the Atlantic Ocean . And furthermore, He is especially abiding close to us as we sit together in communion here now.
He is always near, don't you feel Him bumping around inside? Is He not calling you to acknowledge His presence and open your heart up to Him?
And when He begins to be our abiding friend, what do we get out of it? He will make you want to be a better man; or, woman, boy or girl. If the Almighty is almighty then He can do anything He wants to do, except control us for He has trusted us with a will of our own. But if you will let Him come into your heart, great things begin to look possible and our problems begin to look little.
Hamilton Jordan has had cancer four times in four different places and has survived to help others make it through chemo and surgery and radiation and tears and a lot of pain and anxiety. Hamilton marches on as he abides with the Man who can do all things if we will cooperate.
Do you have a bigger problem than Ham Jordan ? If he can you can because God can drag us along, push us at times, but all the while loving us onward… He Abides! He Abides, Hallelujah, He abides with me!
Let's make communion another First Communion right now!
sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor