A Sermon for East Rochester: "The Spirit of Truth"
John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15
Pentecost – May 20, 2018
The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor
East Rochester and West Walworth: Zion United Methodist Churches
(On the occasion of the baptism of Louis Christopher Andreacchi, Aubrey DeRycke, and Paige T. O’Lena and the reception into membership of the East Rochester United Methodist church of Nicholas A. Andreacchi, Sarah J. Andreacchi, Kannan Velchamy, Shanthi Thangavelsami, and Jeerthi Mary Kannan.)
John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15 (http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=393394883)
Louis, Aubrey, and Paige welcome.
I welcome you into
The community of God
Known as Christianity.
God chose you;
Intentionally chose you to be a Christian.
Forevermore, your identity is
On this day we celebrate
the coming of the Holy Spirit to the disciples of Jesus.
The same Holy Spirit warmed the hearts
of your parents and family members, and
Brought into their consciousness
the need to bring you forward
to these baptismal waters.
You’ve been baptized by water and the same Spirit,
That unites us one with Christ
and one with each other
For all eternity.
Nothing can, or will,
Break or destroy our baptismal union.
The Holy Spirit acted,
Using my hands as the hands of God.
What God has done,
No one can undo,
Nor does God need to repeat the call or initiation.
What God has done
Church; now I’m looking at you.
The Holy Spirit has done its part.
Now, it’s time to take responsibility and live up to
the promise we’ve just made.
We’ve promised to proclaim the good news
And live according to the example of Jesus,
Teaching Louis, Aubrey, and Paige
Everything about Jesus that you’ve been taught.
Don’t you dare leave anything out.
I’m too old for excuses.
Teach them everything!
Louis, Aubrey, and Paige need to be introduced to Jesus,
To develop a personal faith and relationship in Jesus,
And to learn to abide in the grace and love of Jesus
All their days.
This is their time of preparation,
To prepare themselves for the day they will confirm
Their baptismal vows.
So, prepare them!
What are you going to do, and how are you going to do it?
Teach and practice love and forgiveness.
By our baptismal vows,
We are a NO HATE zone,
We are a NO CONFLICT zone.
Hatred and fighting is not tolerated in this house!
As the Father has loved the Son,
And the Son loves his disciples,
So, too, are we to love one another.
Christ didn’t die for our redemption
So that you and I might be curmudgeons,
Stubbornly refusing to grant and receive forgiveness!
Confess, repent, forgive! Repeat!
Repeat so often that Louis, Aubrey, and Paige
Become the forgiveness of Christ,
That the world might be redeemed.
By word and example show them how to serve others;
How to love God, and love neighbors.
The Holy Spirit of Truth will guide you to all truth,
Will guide you to selfless service and righteousness,
Will guide you into a lifestyle of justice, mercy, and peace.
This probably feels more like a lecture than a sermon.
I’m being so forceful and direct
Because I know the immense responsibility
We have all just taken on behalf of Louis, Aubrey, and Paige.
Heaven is on the line.
There is too much at stake
For there to be any risk of failure.
All hands are needed
For the power and authority of the Spirit
To be transferred from Christ to his Church.
Nick, Sarah, Kannan, Shanthi, and Jeerthi
Welcome into the membership of the local chapter.
Sadly, there is no secret handshake,
Or, if there is one,
No one has taught me!
Welcome into the membership of the
East Rochester United Methodist Church.
It is humbling,
It is good,
It is a privilege to journey together as friends,
The path that leads to Jesus Christ,
Abiding in his eternal grace and love.
You are a part of the leading edge
of the awesome transformation God is doing in this congregation.
Ride the wave!
As your spiritual, ordained, appointed leader,
It is my vow to support your spiritual life to the best of my ability
By proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ,
By celebrating the sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion,
To guide in the organization and administration of the parish,
And by word and example,
To work with you to serve others.
My words. My vow. My honor.
You join with every other member
of the East Rochester United Methodist church,
Making this four-point vow:
1. Members pray for one another, and for the world.
Pray, because Jesus tells us to pray
And he teaches us how to pray.
Not to change God,
But that the Holy Spirit might change you.
Join me in prayer daily.
2. Members show up.
Show up for worship.
I’m too old, and I’ve heard them all before.
If you can’t attend Sabbath worship here,
Make it a priority to join with others to worship together.
Visit a parish when traveling or when schedules conflict.
Corporate worship matters.
Being together, giving God thanks and praise matters.
Visit our growing online efforts to
Get us together, and keep us together, in sacred worship.
Without you, we are not complete.
This is your worship home.
We are your worshipping brothers and sisters.
Show up and return often.
3. Members give.
Time. Talent. Money.
Time and talent, I think we all get.
Make it a priority to share your time and the gifts God gives you
For the benefit of the Church and God’s kingdom.
Allow me to be straight forward about giving money.
Every member is responsible for a share of the overall
Income and expenses of our Christian community.
Money doesn’t grow on trees,
Nor do we find it under cabbage leaves.
Every penny comes from us;
Each according to ability.
God’s already given us all we need to fulfill God’s will and purpose.
If we run short,
It means there are one or more members
Who need to increase financial support,
To come to parity,
With the rest of us.
The guide is the Biblical tithe;
Ten percent of income.
It was a struggle for Cynthia and I to get to a ten percent tithe,
Especially with raising a family.
But, we did it. We do it. Tithing makes us happy.
I invite you to join us.
4. Members serve.
We love and serve the Lord.
We love and serve our neighbors.
We place the needs of others before our own needs.
Members serve, then eat last.
Members sacrifice our own comfort and well being for friends,
Especially for the last, least, and lost.
Members serve as advocates.
Members serve as peacemakers.
Members serve to right the wrongs of the world.
Members serve as the hands of Jesus.
I have every expectation
And every confidence in the five of you,
And in the entire membership of the East Rochester United Methodist Church
That you will faithfully keep your vows and covenant.
I believe you and take you at your word.
By the power and the authority of the Holy Spirit
You will support the ministry of this parish and our Church
By your prayers,
And your service.
May the Holy Spirit of Truth
Bless, preserve, and keep you.
May the Holy Spirit of Truth
Strengthen your belief,
lead you to righteousness,
and save you from self-condemnation.
May the Holy Spirit of Truth,
Who was present and active
At your baptismal waters,
Grant you all power and authority
To bring about His kingdom
To God’s eternal glory.