Trinity Sunday, Year C: John 16:12-15: Community of Love

You can see all the lectionary readings for Trinity Sunday, Year C by clicking here. I have chosen to discuss the passage from the Gospel of John.

This is one of those brief passages that is better to quote than to paraphrase:

“I have so much more to tell you, but it is too much for you to accept now. But when the Spirit of truth comes, he will lead you into all truth. He will not speak his own words. He will speak only what he hears and will tell you what will happen in the future. The Spirit of truth will bring glory to me by telling you what he receives from me. All that the Father has is mine. That is why I said that the Spirit will tell you what he receives from me.

John 16:12-15 (Easy-to-Read Version)

On this, Trinity Sunday, we have a statement from the Son about the Father and the Holy Spirit. They each have their roles and they interact in love. They also share that love with us. May we all live in such beautiful community.

Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year C: John 17:20-26: Loving in Prayer

You can see all the lectionary readings for the Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year C by clicking here. I have chosen to discuss the passage from the Gospel of John.

In this beautiful passage we see Jesus praying for his followers. It’s tricky to paraphrase so I will just quote it below:

“I pray not only for these followers but also for those who will believe in me because of their teaching.Father, I pray that all who believe in me can be one. You are in me and I am in you. I pray that they can also be one in us. Then the world will believe that you sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me. I gave them this glory so that they can be one, just as you and I are one. I will be in them, and you will be in me. So they will be completely one. Then the world will know that you sent me and that you loved them just as you loved me.

“Father, I want these people you have given me to be with me in every place I am. I want them to see my glory—the glory you gave me because you loved me before the world was made. Father, you are the one who always does what is right. The world does not know you, but I know you, and these followers of mine know that you sent me. I showed them what you are like, and I will show them again. Then they will have the same love that you have for me, and I will live in them.”

John 17:20-26 (Easy-to-Read Version)

We often don’t see what Jesus prays, because the gospels will just mention him going aside somewhere to pray. But this time we get the meat of the prayer and it can be an example to us. He prays for what he desires, but because he is close to God, he desires something very pure–for his followers to know how to love and to know God more. Yes, we should be ready to ask God for what we need and want in prayer, but that prayer is better if we are abidiing in God and seeking to follow in the steps of Jesus. If we are doing that, what we desire will be closer to what God also desires in the world.

Trinity Sunday, Year B: Romans 8:12-17: Abiding in the Trinity

You can see all the lectionary readings for Trinity Sunday, Year B by clicking here. I have chosen to discuss the passage from the Epistle of Romans because I already wrote about the Gospel during another Sunday during Year A.

This is a lovely passage that begins with an exhortation that we not be ruled by our sinful selves or by the flesh as some translations call it. It is spiritual death to live only by fleshly desire. He says you can have true life with the Spirit’s help.

This is not a dichotomy between two parts of our personality (like the idea of mind over matter), but instead about the work of the Spirit in our lives to help us overcome the desire to sin.

Paul says that the true children of God let God’s Spirit lead them. My favorite part is that he says this spirit does not make us slaves and cause us to fear. The Spirit makes us God’s children. He says with that Spirit we cry out, Abba, Father.” and the Spirit advocates on our behalf and speaks to our spirits. 

How lovely that we are the children of a loving Father and a Spirit to lead us to be more like Christ. That’s abiding in the Trinity of God.

Trinity Sunday, Year A: Celebrate the Mystery: Matthew 28:16-20

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Holy Trinity – Source: iStockphoto.com/Bernardojbp

You can see all the lectionary readings for the Trinity Sunday, Year A by clicking here. I have chosen to discuss the passage from the Gospel of Matthew.

This is a very short story. The disciples go to Galilee to meet Jesus at a mountain. They worship him there but some still have their doubts (they’re only human). Jesus tells them (I just can’t bring myself to paraphrase this):

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

This command from Jesus is known as the Great Commission—he is instructing the church to go on and share the Gospel with the whole world and teach others how to follow Jesus. Notice this is Trinity Sunday, when we celebrate the Trinity that is God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The wording in the great Commission, “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” is the same wording we use in creeds and at baptisms, confirmations, weddings, funerals. The Trinity is a mystery and a paradox—beyond our understanding, but we know God as three in one—God the Father and Creator; God the Son our Redeemer and Teacher; and the Holy Spirit, our Guide and Comforter.

We may not fully grasp the concept of the Trinity, but we can love and embrace the mystery on this day of celebration.

Easter 5, Year A: John 14:1-14: Doing Great Things in His Name

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John – Source: iStockphoto.com/tracygood1

You can see all the lectionary readings for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year A by clicking here. I have chosen to discuss only the Gospel reading.

A lot of times I like to paraphrase the Gospel story as I write.  This week I’m not able to paraphrase very well because it just seems best to go ahead and put it in Jesus’ own words (well, in the English translation we have of Jesus’ own words).  This week’s Gospel lesson is about another time Jesus spent with his followers after his resurrection.  Jesus is talking to his disciples and tells them not to be troubled but to trust in God and to trust in him.  He tells them, “There are many rooms in my Father’s house. I would not tell you this if it were not true. I am going there to prepare a place for you.  After I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back. Then I will take you with me, so that you can be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Remember Thomas, who is curious (not just doubting)—he is the one to ask a question here: “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”  Thomas is the kind of guy who likes to be more certain he knows what’s going on.  Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father too. But now you know the Father. You have seen him.”

Philip responds with, “Lord, show us the Father. That is all we need.”  (Isn’t it a shame Thomas gets a rep for being Doubting Thomas? No one ever talks about a Demanding Philip.)

Jesus answered, “Philip, I have been with you for a long time. So you should know me. Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father too. So why do you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The things I have told you don’t come from me. The Father lives in me, and he is doing his own work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or believe because of the miracles I have done.

“I can assure you that whoever believes in me will do the same things I have done. And they will do even greater things than I have done, because I am going to the Father. And if you ask for anything in my name, I will do it for you. Then the Father’s glory will be shown through the Son.  If you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.

I like the part about “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father too.”  It’s the heart of the story here—God sent us Jesus to show us Himself.

I’m less comfortable with the end of Jesus’ speech, because it’s been taken to mean some pretty crazy things by some Christians.  “And if you ask for anything in my name, I will do it for you.”  I once attended a church where people were into the prosperity gospel (believing God wants believers to be prosperous and all it takes is faith to have success, money, healing, whatever—flip side is if you have any problems you must just lack faith—I consider that very damaging theology).  The day a teacher got up and said he felt he lacked faith because he gave his daughter Tylenol I walked out and never returned.  Anyway, I think the key to that verse is the “in my name”.  It’s not a magic formula—if I just pray “In Jesus’ name” I can have whatever I want.  I think it’s more about praying in accordance with what Jesus himself would want—praying in His way, if you will.

I also love how Jesus promised that those who believe in him will do great things.  You could talk about how we can do great things for Jesus in our own community—for instance in our church we have a program that provides breakfast to the homeless every Thursday morning.  And the Episcopal church at large has so many programs of great things they are doing out in the world. For instance, Episcopal Migration Ministries is helping refugees (click here for more info and while you’re there, click the Ministries tab near the top right and see how many other amazing things the church is doing for Jesus).

We know a lot about Jesus from the Gospels talking about what he did healing and helping and also the stories he himself told about how we should live.  From there we can see the great things he did and how we can then do our own great things in our own communities. I believe that we have to look for where God is at work and join Him there—healing and helping around the world.