St. Mark's Episcopal Church

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Easter 6 Sermon 2010
Rev. Joyce Avery

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Amen.
Whenever we have graduating high school seniors from our church, we honor them with a gift of a Bible. I don’t know if we have any this year or not. But—just what do you say to a senior that has his whole life ahead of him or her. Do we try to offer words of wisdom, values in life, skills and intelligence of knowledge, or do we just wish them good luck in their future of unknown places God is sending each one of them.
The disciples find themselves in the same situation—they are about to be sent out on their own journey, away from their teacher, who is leaving them. But Jesus is not giving advice as to what especially needs to be said or done, he just wants them to go into the world to tell the truth and above all, Jesus says if you believe in me and love me, you will keep my commandments.
But Jesus does not give them one commandment so that they can please him with their conformity. What Jesus wants from his disciples is harder than completing a project, is more difficult than working you way into college, is more difficult than pleasing the expectations of supervisors, family or friends. What Jesus wants from his disciples is not something that will make them feel smarter or more gifted or more special. It will not make them more successful or safe. They will not win any awards for keeping his word.
Jesus wants them to love because he knows that there may not be any other way to live a life of peace in this unsafe world. There may not be any other way to live in this world with a heart free from constant trouble. Jesus gives them this expectation, this command, because he loves them and he wants them to know the peace they seek, the peace God has promised. Wouldn’t this be a wonderful world if everyone would go and love because God loves you and share God’s love with the ones around you.
The world is filled with noise and confusion and uncertainty. It’s about time we took a break from all the turmoil and trouble. It’s about time we took a break from it all in order to enrich our lives with the gift of Peace being offered to us by our Lord Jesus Christ.
After writing this passage that I just quoted, reminds me of our 100 year celebration. I needed some peace and quiet, so I decided to go clean up the altar. Well, to my surprise, there sat Natalea also needing some peace and quiet. It is amazing how tired we can get when there is so much going on all at once. Hot hearing well, I find myself getting very frustrated. Listening for me is a trying time to figure out what people are saying where there is background noise and so much going on. By going in the nave was a time of peace and quiet. It didn’t last very long as some of the people found us—so much for peace & quiet. I guess it wasn’t very nice of me when I interrupted Nat’s peace and quiet. Anyway, we got the altar cleaned up.
Jesus told the disciples that the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in his name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all I have said to you. Peace, I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you—a peace the world cannot give. This is My Gift to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid; Jesus has prepared the disciples to receive peace of soul and the inner power to carry out Christian ministry to the world.
In the Gospel for today (John 14) Jesus is talking to his disciples and telling them that the Advocate or Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in His name, will teach them everything, and remind them of all he has said to them. The Advocate or Holy Spirit will act as counselor, helper, comforter, guide—and much more. With the ongoing presence of the Advocate, the disciples will be equipped to proclaim the Lord’s life and teachings.
Jesus leaves his peace to the disciples so it will calm their troubled hearts in the trials to come. Following this assurance of peace, Jesus promises that his imminent departure will not mean the end of fellowship with his disciples. He must leave them, but it will be in order to return to them in a yet more enabling way. Thus he tells them not ot be troubled or afraid.
They are not to think of his departure with grief, despite the despair they will experience at Jesus’ suffering and death. In their love for him, they are to rejoice because Jesus is returning to the Father. I don’t know why he thinks they will be ok, after all he is leaving them to fend for themselves, and they lost their confidant and teacher. But then Jesus’ mission to bring his Father’s love to the world has been accomplished, and now the Advocate-Holy Spirit will be with them.
A new era is about to break out in the world. Jesus has told them all these things so that when these events occur they might believe.
In the passage of Acts, we can see the promised Spirit at work as Paul continues to spread the Good News of the Risen Lord. Paul has a vision, in which an unidentified Macedonian man pleads for him to “come over to Macedonia and help us”.
Paul heeds the vision as a genuine call from God, and travels to Philippi, a major city in the Roman colony of Macedonia. On the Sabbath, Paul was looking for a “place of prayer”, another term for a synagogue. On the way he comes across a group of women by the river, sits down with them, and speaks with them.  Among those women was one named Lydia, a worshipper of God, and a “dealer in purple cloth”. I suppose most of you have heard or read about Lydia. Only the wealthy could afford the purple clothing, thus, as the owner of such a business, Lydia would have been a woman of means. The fact that she worshipped God could indicate she was either a devout Jew or a Gentile lover of God. 
In any case, Lydia was receptive to Paul’s message. “The Lord opened her heart,” thus her and her household were baptized by Paul. Following her baptism she prevailed upon Paul to accept her hospitality. Lydia’s patronage would have been important to the support of Paul’s ministry in Philippi.
Getting to know Lydia, Paul moved in affluent circles. The ‘purple cloth” Lydia sold was a pricey fabric, made with a rare dye. Her clientele was wealthy, and she had the resources to have traveled to Macedonia from her home in Asia Minor. She was the equivalent of someone who today makes a transatlantic or transpacific flight in business class. 
Since this is Mother’s Day, I looked up some information on the computer to find out about how Mother’s Day came about. Here is what I found.
The US celebrates Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May. In the 1880s and 1890s there were several attempts to establish a Mother’s Day, but they didn’t succeed beyond the local level. The holiday was created by Anna Jarvis in Grafton, West Virginia in 1908 as a day to honor one’s mother. Jarvis wanted to accomplish her mother’s dream of making a celebration for all mothers, although the idea didn’t take off until she enlisted the services of wealthy Philadelphia merchant John Wanamaker, She kept promoting the holiday until President Woodrow Wilson made it an official national holiday in 1914.  The holiday eventually became so highly commercialized that many, including its founder, Anna Jarvis, considered it a “Hallmark Holiday”, one with an overwhelming commercial purpose. Jarvis eventually ended up opposing the holiday she had helped to create. She died in 1948, regretting what had become of her holiday. In the US, Mother’s Day remains one of the biggest days for sales of flowers, greeting cards, and like; it is also the biggest holiday for long distance telephone calls.
I also found a poem that really describes a Mother!
Mother’s Day
The special love
Of a mother’s heart
just always seems to know….
The Help to give and the words to say
To the ones who need her so….
Through years of works and patience,
She’s learned her special act….
For the nearest thing
to the love of God
is the love of a mother’s heart