TEXTS: 

EZEKIEL 34: 1-7

JOHN 14: 15-21

     When our lives become dis-arranged (if you know what I mean) we may be uncomfortable or anxious or vexed.  Our usual daily patterns don't seem to fit anymore.  Our customary rhythms for making it through the day don't feel natural anymore.

     These last many weeks of compulsory isolation have altered our lives.  Whatever we did automatically before has now been noticed because we must think about everything we decide to do when we leave our place of quarantine.

     Is this trip necessary?  Is it otherwise permitted?  Must I wear a mask?  Hand sanitizer?  Can I make it home before needing a restroom?  The new kind of thinking we must at least consider has changed all sorts of patterns.  

     Last week Jesus reminded us not to let our hearts be troubled.  He invited us to continue to believe in God and in him and to trust him to be our Good Shepherd.  He promised us a room in God's heavenly inn and what's more, he prepares that room for us.

     This week his words to us are again a kind of invitation.  Love me and keep my commandments.  Simple.  Direct.  Unambiguous.  He promised us a room for our eternal rest in God's abode.  Now he promises us a counselor; an advocate.  This promise is also eternal.  The Holy Spirit will come and be with us as we live and will continue to be with us until we reside in that specially prepared room.  

     Jesus promises never to leave us.  Never!  Not in this lifetime nor in the eternity that awaits us in the Kingdom of God.  Verse 18 reads:" I will not leave you desolate."  Another translations reads: "I will not leave you comfortless."  The Greek word here is "orphanos."  It means "bereft of a father or of parents.'  In other words, as orphans.  Jesus promises us we will not be orphans in this life. 

     "I will not leave you 'orphanos.'"  This Jesus promise, I remind you, is made to the disciples on Thursday just hours before his betrayal and all that follows.  We are never alone while Jesus lives.  Never!  Therefore, his invitation to love and keep the commandments suggests we are not without the strength and wherewithal to do just that.

   Nearly half a century ago Methodist theologian and scholar The Reverend Albert Outler was quoted in the Christian Century answering this question: How has your mind changed about ministry or theology or your faith in your lifetime?  Dr. Outler's answer was both simple and profound.  He said: "I always preached 'You've GOT to love.'  Now I preach 'You GET to love.'  Such is the power of God's love for us in Christ Jesus."

     Being in the presence of a risen savior forever and protected for all eternity by a loving God and guided by The Spirit of Truth...how more secure could we be?  In the living presence of the Holy Trinity, we are free to love and keep the commandments without fear; without shame; without hesitation.  We have nothing to lose to live this way.  Amen