May 17th Worship Service & Sermon: “The Abiding Spirit of Truth”

Please join us for our May17th Worship Service!  You can reach the service on YouTube by clicking the following link

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May 17, 2020 [White]
Sixth Sunday of Easter

John 14:15-21

The Abiding Spirit of Truth

The Video Call

It is always hard to say goodbye to our beloved ones. Afterward, our life is harder because we really miss their physical presence in our lives. I still remember how hard it was when I had to leave my mom behind in Korea. When I said goodbye to her at the airport, she burst into tears. Before I boarded the plane, I needed to comfort her, so I gave her my promise: the promise to come again to see her on my next vacation or invite her back whenever she feels ready to come. (As you know, she had to go back to her country because of her need for medical care). As I made my promise to her, we both knew we would meet again, either in my mom’s country or here in mine.

But still my concern is, “How can I help her endure the loneliness and help her manage until we meet again?” After much thought, I purchased a smartphone for her and set it up so we could have video calls. She and I can call each day, looking at each other’s face. I even can show her granddaughter, (Mimi, my cat) and all the flowers she had taken care of. When I called her from my church office, I showed her the Easter lilies in our sanctuary and she was so happy about it. One day she told me that these video calls make her feel like I am with her at her house. I can definitely say that this helps us connect with each other and brings lots of confidence into her life, and I believe this device will keep her stay strong until we meet again.

The promise of the Holy Spirit

In chapter 14 of John’s Gospel, we can see the farewell scenes between Jesus and his disciples. Jesus said goodbye to them and they were very upset with his sudden farewell. For three years they had shared their lives together. Because Jesus knew they were broken-hearted, he tried to comfort them as he gave them two essential promises before he left them behind.

Last Sunday we read about his first promise: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also (v. 3). It is just like my promise to my mom: “I will come again to see you soon.” (Well actually, it is the promise about his own resurrection and eternal life for his followers).

But it wasn’t good enough to comfort their troubled hearts. They might have believed he would come back someday as he promised, but they were still wondering how they could stay calm and face all the challenges of life without his daily presence. Jesus also knew that they couldn’t make it on their own, and he didn’t want to abandon them like a bunch of orphans. So, he gave them his second promise: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever” (v. 16). (“Advocate” can be translated as “counselor,” “comforter,” “intercessor,” and “strengthener”). This promised Advocate is the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit, they’d be able to feel Jesus’ presence in their lives. I liken the task of the Holy Spirit to the video call on my mom’s cellphone in the sense that both bring us a feeling of connection and confidence in life.

Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit holds immense comfort. Without God’s abiding help in our daily lives, we too can’t stay calm and strong. If we have to do everything with our own strength, we will soon find ourselves very discouraged and even give up. As little children of God, we need the Holy Spirit who can guide our faith journey in this complicated and uncertain world.

What if we fail? What if we get lost? What if we lose everything we need to sustain our lives? Those are the actual worries we may struggle with, especially in this time of uncertainty. For these possible worries in our hearts, Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of Truth” (v. 17). Because He is the Spirit of Truth and if we trust and obey, the Spirit will lead us all the way to be with God!

Through the Holy Spirit guiding us each day, we will not only experience God’s presence in our own lives, but we will also be able to show his presence to others. Jesus has given his followers the Holy Spirit with an important caveat: “If you love me, keep my commands.” As we have the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we must display the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).

How can we know Jesus will come again? How can we know he will send us the Holy Spirit? How can we know the Spirit will lead us to the way we should go? The only answer for this question is “trust and obey.” Indeed, our Lord Jesus kept his own promises to his disciples. First, he kept his promise of coming back to them. He walked out of the tomb. He rose from the dead, having defeated death. Jesus’ resurrection secures our place in the family of God. Second, he kept his promise to send the Holy Spirit. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon them and they could live powerful lives, witnessing about Jesus’ resurrection to all nations. What was true of the disciples is also true of you and me today. We have to trust in his promises that he will be always with us and obey his holy guidance that we will strive to make a faithful and godly life.

Trust and obey

Often in life, there is a stark contrast between the resurrection in heaven and the actual trials in the world. We see it in the threatening of this pandemic, which is out of our control, in a fractured economy in which many of us have even lost jobs, in the loss of a beloved one that has discouraged hope and joy in our life, in the struggles with our own health issues, that we just want to give up on life.

In the midst of this troubled life and this uncertain world, we feel like we have been abandoned like orphans. If this is our feeling of today, let us listen to what Jesus says to his disciples “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you as I send you the Spirit of the Truth” (vv. 16-18). This is what Jesus promises his disciples and us today and we know he will keep his promise. All we have to do is to trust and obey! Amen!