Written history reveals that war and the suffering that goes with it have always been part of the human experience. . . . In the midst of this, God's people have been the bearers of the words of justice, compassion, and abundant life. The work has never been finished and it continues into today and beyond. The work is ours to do, and those who come after us can be trusted to carry it on, just as we carry on the work of those before us.
The Gospel has God's word as a foundation, the same word that created the world in the first place. We can trust it. – Judith E. Simonson
In Jesus’ farewell address to the disciples, he exemplifies pastoral care.
First, Jesus does not shy away from the subject: he tells his disciples he will be leaving them. Second, he leaves behind a blessing. Third, he promises the presence of God with his followers—the assurance that they will not be alone.
But most astonishingly, he challenges them to be happy for him! He is going home! To the Father! Here is a thirty-three-year-old man who is going to die, saying to his friends, “You should be happy for me!” How can he ask it? Because, as he points out, if they really love him, they will put his well-being above their own sense of loss. Real love wants good for the other even at great cost to self.
. . . The idea that someone could consider his life complete at such a young age is foreign to us. Yet, with his death and resurrection, God's plan for his life was finished. He said as much on the cross.
So let us hear Jesus' words to his disciples who, just as we are, were living and dying at the same time. First, he tells us the truth of our situation and does not mince words. Second, he gives us his peace, a peace that exists even when the world is not at peace, because it consists of knowing whose we are and to whom we are going—the Father. Third, he promises us that we are not alone in our work because his Spirit has come to us and will stay until the end. And, finally, we can rejoice because Jesus has gone before us and waits to welcome us home. – Judith E. Simonson
Living in the power of the Holy Spirit’s presence and guidance is, however, not always an obvious path. Taylor Burton-Edwards leaves us preachers with questions that mean to get at the ways in which each of us and the congregations we serve are being called to live in honesty, peace, and joy.
Though Paul and his companions responded immediately to his dream/vision to go to Macedonia, he seems to have spent several days getting acclimated to life in Philippi before beginning his “real” work there. To whom is God calling you to come over and help at this time? What will you do to become acclimated to the culture of those you are called to reach? – Taylor Burton-Edwards
Revelation 21:10, 22 – 22:5
“Life in the Spirit” has often been associated with fanaticism and division among Christians. How does life in the Spirit in your congregation work for truth and peace? –
Keeping the Word of God at the center might be a theme for this Sunday, particularly as it is borne out locally.
Taylor Burton-Edwards is the Director of Worship resources for the United Methodist Church.
Judith E. Simonson is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Homily Service 40, no. 6 (2007): 11-19.