June 12, 2022, Trinity Sunday, Just When We Were Getting To Know Each Other, By Pastor David
John 16:4-15 But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I am going to the one who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you, but if I go, I will send her to you. And when she comes, she will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to Abba God, and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, she will guide you into all the truth, for she will not speak on her own but will speak whatever she hears, and she will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 She will glorify me because she will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that Abba God has is mine. For this reason I said that she will take what is mine and declare it to you.
As a video takes us to peaceful spot in the Smoky Mountains of TN, we take a moment to give thanks for the ordinary everyday ministry of people in this church, from children to old age.
June 12, 2022 Trinity Sunday Just When We Were Getting to Know Each Other
As I thought about saying farewell and a spirit of truth, I thought about my aunt. May Strebel Moore was my grandmother Clara Strebel Tatgenhorst’s sister, my father’s aunt and my great aunt. We called her Aunt May. She was a positive, generous, loving woman, who taught me a lot. If I said I was going to try to do something, she would say, “No, don’t try. Don’t say try. Just do it.’ She was like a Nike representative before there was Nike.
She was already getting pretty old and hard of hearing when she was going into a grocery store one day and tripped and fell. A worker from the store came out and helped her up and Aunt May heard her say, “Oh, the mat isn’t down right. We have to fix that.” Aunt May decided to get the store to help her out - and she sued them.
The case went to court and they put Aunt May on the stand, in her 80’s, hard of hearing. The lawyer asked her “Mrs. Moore, is there anything that you can’t do now that you could do before the accident?” She said, “Yes, it hurt my pool arm!” She won the case. The judge awarded her $7500.
She walked out of the court room, sat down in a chair and said “75 dollars! All that for 75 dollars!” They shouted in her ear, “No Mrs. Moore, 75 hundred dollars!”
I tell you all this thinking about a time in my life when it was hard to say goodbye. It was hard to say goodbye to my beloved Aunt May. Aunt May lived to 100 years old and my folks called me one spring day and said, ‘you’d better come. It’s near the end.” I drove over to the hospital with my mother not knowing what to expect. And sure enough, she was lying flat in bed, her mouth open. I thought I was too late.
I walked up to her bedside and I looked down at her in the bed. She looked up at me with cloudy eyes and said, “Alice.” I shouted in her ear, “No, Aunt May, guess again” She said, “Get me up in bed.” My mother got on one side and I took her shoulder on the other and we lifted her up in bed. I sat down next to her.
She looked at me and she said, “David!” I’ll never forget it. For the next 40 minutes she told story after story. Because she could hear at all, there wasn’t much I could say. But she remembered our trips to Coney Island amusement park in Cincinnati. She recalled the delicious fried chicken she used to make for all of us. And after every story, she would say, “Didn’t we have a good time, though?” “Didn’t we have a good time?”
Our assigned reading for today is about Jesus saying farewell to the disciples. It comes near the end of a long (4 chapters) farewell speech in the gospel of John. Today’s passage says some similar things to what Pastor Mark was saying last week. Jesus says that as he leaves and goes to heaven, he will continue to advocate for the community with God and that God will send an advocate to the community to assist and comfort & always connect them to the Living God.
In today’s passage Jesus continues, saying when the “spirit of truth comes, she will guide you into all the truth.” The Spirit will guide us into all truth. The truth here is not referring to getting all the facts right - like which version of the Bible is the most accurate or who is right and who is wrong. The truth is referring to the power of the presence of God in Christ and the Spirit. The truth is God’s love for all God’s people and the power of God’s grace in that community.
That is the truth that we have been living into for the last 26 years. That’s the truth this church has been about for 145 years. That is the truth that reassures all of us in the face of any loss or any crisis, that the Spirit of the Living God is our comfort and our strength.
Friends, I have been saying farewell for a long time, for months. Now that I have just one week left, one more Sunday, even I’m saying, “How can this be? Is this really happening?” I did not mean for my farewell discourse to be as long as Jesus’ discourse in the Gospel of John. Since Easter though, I have been very aware of this week coming up. It has been really fun recalling all the ways in which we have been living out the truth together of God’s presence and power over the last 26 years.
Week after week, I feel like I’ve been echoing my great Aunt May, saying at 100 years old: “Didn’t we have a good time though?” Now that the time is close, that feels even more poignant and powerful. Even the hard times seem good. Didn’t we have a good time?
Yesterday, I said my final farewell to Lillian Harris. When I came to St. Luke, Lillian was the church secretary. She had been here for 20 some years and she would serve for 20 some more before she retired. She loved St. Luke. She served here for close to 45 years.
It seemed really fitting that one of the last things I would do here as pastor of St. Luke is to inter her ashes in the memorial garden of our church. Her name will be in the Book of Life, and on a bronze ribbon in the back and on a brick next to her husband Bill in the garden.
I realized as I prepared for the sermon this morning and for her interment that Lillian reminded me of my Aunt May - generous, faithful, positive, and gracious. I could almost hear her saying, “Didn’t we have a good time, though? Didn’t we have a good time?”
I can’t help quoting Jesus’ words to you from our passage today, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” I’ve spoken long enough. 1,328 or so sermons is enough, right? I can’t believe that after being through so much together, so many losses, so much hard work, so many hard talks and after taking so many risks together, we come to this place, and we reflect on it, and we say, “Wow, didn’t we have a good time though?”
One more Sunday, I’ll speak my little, imperfect part of the truth. The Spirit of truth, the Spirit of the Living God will be with you always. And I know you will always remember that Spirt of truth and recall that: this is God’s good news.
Let’s sing the Song of Hope, from Argentina. May the God of hope go with us every day.
Responsive Hymn: 2186 Song of Hope