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Holy Goodbye - John 17

In John chapter 17 Jesus finishes the discourse of the Last Supper with a prayer.  Jesus' prayer is aimed at both preparing himself for the cross, and his disciples for their loss.  He blesses the disciples and the work they have done.  He prays for unity and protection for them.  He blesses those who will believe because of them.  Jesus knows that they are about to be left alone.  He looks forward to being back in his place side by side with God, but he is aware that the disciples will have a hard time, so he blesses them for the work ahead.  I remember my last sermon at the Celtic Church in Asheville, NC.  It was my last chance to speak to this crowd of people whom I had come to love so deeply.  I arrived early and blessed the space.  I played music and prayed over that space from the depth of my heart.  I greeted each person with a radiant smile and a hug.  When I stood up and looked at their faces my eyes filled with tears.  Much of the sermon I had prepared for the day was tos
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Suffering Servant - John 16

Today we continue our study of the Gospel of John in Chapter 16.  Last week we talked about how Jesus told his disciples that people would hate them, and here he doubles down, saying that the day would come when people would try to kill them and think they were doing the work of God by killing them.  He told his disciples that in a little while he would go where they could not see him, and then in a little while they would see him again.  He encouraged them that his leaving was good because he would send the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit would not only remind them of what he had taught, but teach them what they were not yet ready to hear from him.  He told them that God would give them anything they asked in his name.  When the disciples finally started to think they were understanding what Jesus was talking about he gave them a quick reality check.  He predicted that when things got dicey they would all leave him to face the troubles alone.  Before the inevitable objections he added &qu

Energy Flow - John 15

  This week we continue our study of John with chapter 15.  This is still part of the Last Supper discourse.  Jesus washed the disciples feet.  He foretold his betrayal and death.  He gave them the great commandment to Love.  He explained that he and God the Parent were one.  He told them that he was going where they could not follow, but promised to send the Holy Spirit.  Now in this chapter he gives them a teaching on energy flow.   Jesus explained using agricultural imagery.  He told them that he was the vine and they were the branches.  They would produce fruit, but only by being connected to the root.  He encouraged them to rest in this flow, to be patient and wait for the fruit that comes from being connected to the Christ.  Similarly he prepared them for how others would treat them.  Some would hate them, while others would love them, but not because of who they are, but who they are in, the vine they are connected to.   I have often struggled with burnout because I have a tende

Nothing without Love - John 14

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. - James 2:14-17 This week we are reading chapter 14 of the Gospel of John.  In this chapter Jesus is having a conversation with his remaining disciples after telling Judas to go and do what he is going to do (betray him to the religious leaders).  The conversation has been pretty heavy up to this point.  In the last chapter He told his disciples that one of them would betray him and that he, Jesus, was going to die.  He told them he would be leaving them and they could not come with him.  He even told Peter that he would deny him 3 times before morning.  Now, in this chapter he begins to comfort them. 

Servant Leadership - John 13

It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, - Matthew 20:26 I remember my first pastoral job.  I was hired on as the children & youth pastor of a small church in South Carolina.  The senior pastor told me a story about his mentor in ministry.  Their church had a toilet that was always getting clogged, and it became my senior pastor's job to unclog it after almost every use.  At some point he realized that the church had the money to fix it.  One day he became frustrated after trying to clean up a pretty serious clog that happend moments before he was expected to preach.  He asked his mentor why he didn't have it fixed.  His mentor told him that it served as a good reminder of what servant leadership looked like.  As a result, one of my jobs at that church was to clean the bathrooms.   Pretty early in my time at LifeJourney Church I realized I was in a good place.  Early one morning before people began to arrive I noticed Pastor

Extravagant Worship - John 12

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. - Psalm 150:6 Early in my 20's I was fired up for God and it often came out in fiery critiques of the religious systems that I witnessed around me.  On one such occasion I was walking down the street with a good friend.  We had been friends for many years, and most of that time I had served as a sort of spiritual mentor for her, a role that would be reversed on this day.  I noticed this large church on my left, and noted the extravagance of the brickwork as well as the largest stained glass window I had ever seen.  I began to stew, thinking about how much money this must have cost.  I started ranting out loud about how wasteful it is to spend all of that money on the building when there are people living without food in the trailer park around the corner.  Several minutes into my rant my friend asked me "what is it to you what they spend it on?".  As soon as she said it the images of today's scripture reading came flood

Faithful Friends - John 11

Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. - Proverbs 17:9 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. - Proverbs 18:24 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. - 1 Peter 4:8-10 Our study continues in the 11th chapter of the Gospel of John.  In this chapter we read the story of the death and resurrection of Lazarus.  Lazarus' sisters called for help from Jesus because Lazarus was ill.  Jesus waited a couple of days and then told his disciples that it was time to go visit Lazarus.  Some of them objected because the people there were trying to kill Jesus, but Jesus insisted.  At this point Thomas said something that I want to come back to. He