October 2017-Notes From the Pastor…
Notes From the Pastor…
John 14:25-27 25
”I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
As I have been thinking about the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, it only seems appropriate that a passage from the gospel of John is part of my newsletter article for the October 2017 newsletter. Lutherans love John and a large part of my seminary education was dedicated to studying John. Some might even say without John there would be no Lutherans. Yes, John is that big of a deal for Lutherans. These verses from John’s gospel are from the section that scholars call Jesus’ farewell address or farewell discourse. Chapters 13-17 are filled with the events of the Last Supper, and Jesus’ final words to the disciples before the story turns toward the cross. Jesus is reassuring the disciples that no matter what happens in the hours and days ahead, even in his absence, they would be safe in God’s care. No matter how alone or separated from Jesus they may feel, he offers them peace and hope. He offers them Holy Spirit as their companion in the future. That same Spirit was present with the Apostles and all of the followers of Christ as the Gospel was set loose in the world. From Rome and Corinth to Galatia and Ephesus, the Good News of Jesus spread in the world. The lives of those who heard it were changed. As the Gospel continued to spread, and Christians faced persecution for their beliefs, followers of Christ were emboldened by the Holy Spirit which sustained them in their lives and in their deaths. The Holy Spirit was present in it all. As Lutherans, we believe the same life-giving Holy Spirit was present with Martin Luther as he came to understand the power of grace. We all know the statement: We are saved by grace through faith, and not by works. That’s Luther and that is what we are about. Yet as much as we claim that Luther is the catalyst responsible for the Reformation, Luther himself is pretty clear that the Holy Spirit is really the agent behind it all. The Spirit’s presence with him opened him to experience the gift of grace. Without the Spirit, the Reformation would not have been possible. In more recent history, the same Spirit was present with immigrants that came to America in hope of new lives in this new unknown place. In the Lutheran tradition, immigrants arrived here from Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, and Sweden (to name a few) with the hope of a new life in a new place fully grounded in their faith in Christ. Yes, the Holy Spirit is at work in this too. This month, as we celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, Jesus words to the disciples also hold true for us. The Holy Spirit, (“paraclete” is the Greek word often and it is often translated “advocate”) is present with us too. Jesus offers to us the same gift of peace and hope that he offered his disciples. The same Holy Spirit that was at work in the early Christians, guiding Martin Luther, and leading our ancestors as they moved to America in hope of a new life is with us too. It is easy to focus on Luther, our history, and our congregation, these are earthly things that are part of something much bigger. All of the things that make the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation special can be boiled down to one thing: The same Spirit that Jesus promised and gifted to the disciple has also been promised and gifted to us. As people of the Spirit, we know with confidence and certainty that the Holy Spirit is always in the business of new life and in the world.
Trusting in the promises of Jesus,