May 20, 2007 Speaker: Rev. Jack Meehan
Topic: Biblical Verse: John 17:20–17:26
Seventh Sunday of Easter
John 17:20-26 "
Time is a precious commodity, and we hate to waste it. But the truth is that we do waste an awful lot of time sitting in traffic, waiting for that service technician who will be at our home between 10 AM and 2 PM, or hanging around in line until our number is called. Our society is organized against waiting: instant foods; 24/7 accessibility through cell phones, pagers, Blackberrys, and other electronic devices; even glasses "in about an hour." What about sitting at the stop light, and the light just turns green? In a split second the person behind you lays on the horn. For some, that split second is wasted time. Some of us are probably in the car being honked at, and some of us are in the car that's doing the honking. We tend to be impatient people who don't like to wait, and we view waiting as wasted time. However, there are some things in life that we can only wait for, and this becomes the focus of today's message under the theme, "Wasted Time?" May the Lord's rich blessing rest upon the preaching, the hearing, and the living of his Word, for Jesus' sake.
Today we are in a waiting mode. The great 50 days of Easter celebrating Jesus' resurrection are just about over, with this past Thursday being the observance of his ascension into heaven. Before his ascension, Jesus told his disciples to "wait until you have been clothed with power from on high" (Acts 1:4). That power is what we celebrate next weekend on the festival of Pentecost, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Today is an in-between time - between Jesus' ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit, and so we wait. Is this wasted time? Let's take a look at what today's Scripture lessons have to say. In the first reading (Acts 16:16-34), Paul and Silas wait patiently - even joyfully - for God to act after they had been thrown into prison in the city of Philippi for casting out a demon from a slave girl. Because the girl's divination powers were gone, her owners' source of income was also gone, and so Paul and Silas were thrown into prison. At midnight, though, an earthquake broke open the prison doors, and the chains of the prisoners were unfastened. They could have all escaped, but they didn't. Through patient waiting, Paul and Silas are able to use this unique mission opportunity to bring the jailer and his whole family to faith in Christ. In the second Scripture lesson (Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21), the risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ reminds us: "Surely I am coming soon" (Revelation 22:20). For now, we are called to patient and hopeful waiting and watching for his coming again. While we wait and watch, we are also called like Paul and Silas to seize those mission opportunities that the Lord places before us, because he has called us to be his witnesses "in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). This is what the Ablaze! initiative is all about - to share the Gospel message with 100 million people by the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017; always being ready to share who the Lord Jesus is with others. Finally, in the Gospel reading (John 17:20-26) Jesus prays for his followers that they may be one, and so the Lord Jesus is praying for you and me - for all who believe in him. As we wait and watch for his coming again, we give witness to the world that we are Christ's people through the unity of love.
In the midst of a culture that sees no point or meaning in waiting, where such waiting is seen as wasted time, God does call us to wait. Isn't this what happened to our congregation with our building plans? We had everything ready to go, but then God called us to wait so that he could reveal an even greater plan. We learned some lessons along the way: our vision is puny and limited, and so we must wait for God's vision to be revealed. Building Our Vision for Tomorrow won't get us very far, and so it must be Building God's Vision for Tomorrow. On Sunday afternoon, fellow members of St. John's will be out on the Pony Express, delivering packets to your homes about BGVFT, including a pledge estimate. Here again, there is a time of holy waiting. We could ask for your pledge on the spot, but a better course of action is to allow each one of us time to pray, reflect, and discuss with family members how we can support this unique mission opportunity. Far from wasted time, this is time well spent waiting and discerning what God is calling each one of us to do for the sake of his mission to the world. When the Pony Express rider comes to your home, receive him or her graciously in the name of Jesus, spend the next two weeks praying and listening to the Lord about BGVFT, and then on Saturday/Sunday, June 2-3, we will return these pledges here to the Lord's altar, dedicating them for his own kingdom work.
Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he told his disciples to go back to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit. They were to go back to the place where it all began: the betrayal, the suffering, the death, the resurrection. Wait there. The disciples were to go back to where it all began, and so are we. We are to go back to where it all began for us - our Baptism, for it is there in those cleansing waters of holy Baptism that we have been united with our crucified, risen, and ascended Savior. We are his in life and in death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live a new life (Romans 6:4). This is the new life to which our congregational vision calls us: Gathered around the cross of Christ, formed and fueled by God's grace, we are sent into the world to invite all people to a life transformed in Jesus Christ. On this Seventh Sunday of Easter, you and I wait and watch, even as Paul and Silas did, for God to act in our lives in powerful and life-transforming ways. Wasted time? Not at all, and so we pray with confidence: "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus" (Revelation 22:20)