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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor


The Fifth Sunday Of Easter

Option #1: "Another Counselor"
(John 14:15-21)
Rev. Wayne Dobratz

"Reach out and touch someone"--long distance telephone plans are being tailor-made for those whose closest friends/relatives have moved away. Now you can call and talk for hours at special rates. The communication companies are responding to needs. According to author Louise Bernikow, the phone companies aren’t the only ones selling friendship. Ms. Bernikow should know--she interviewed more than 500 people for her book Alone in America: The Search for Companionship. Ms. Bernikow says that the beer ads are not selling alcohol only; they’re selling friendship. Sellers of goods are becoming increasingly aware of how loneliness is a button to be pushed for sales. Why is this happening? Ms. Bernikow writes that many people miss the feelings of belonging that they had, for example, in the 60s, when participating in protest movements they were a part of something bigger than themselves. People move around more and old friends just aren’t around anymore. And then lifetime employment with one company is a thing of the past. What is needed to fill the gap is creating a community. The least lonely people Ms. Bernikow interviewed have strong friendships. They also have physical and emotional intimacy and feeling of membership in a cause "bigger than themselves." This should sound familiar to Christians. As Jesus was preparing to leave the disciples, He addressed the feelings of abandonment and loneliness they would soon have. He assures them that they will not be left alone.

I. The Holy Spirit comes to remind us of Jesus’ words

       A. We need someone to talk to us--John 14:25-27; text, vv16-17

       B. He provides a sense of Christian community, even when one is alone

             1. We pray for guidance and He reminds us of the words of Jesus--John 14:26

             2. He is the still small voice that responds to our needs--1 Kings 19:13ff

       C. He reminds us that we are not alone in Christ--v19b: "Because I live, you will also live"; v20: "You are in me and I am in you"; see also Eph 3:14-20

II. He lives within us to help when we feel like orphans--Hos 14:3; Ps 79; John 14:6, 16:22; 16:33

III. He leads us to live our love for the Lord Jesus--Ezek 36:27; text, v17; Rom 8:9; 1 Cor 6:19-20; Gal 2:20; Eph 3:17-19; 1 John 3:24

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia comments on this text: 1. The Work of the Spirit--in the Fourth Gospel: In one direction the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is uniquely developed in the Johannine writings... The departing Christ promises to His friends a new presence, different from His own in that it was to be not a bodily but a spiritual presence, and yet really His own--a presence in which all and more than all the effects of His bodily presence would be perpetuated (Jn 14:18; 16:22). In truth, it was expedient for them that He should go away, in order that this other Paraclete should come (Jn 16:7). In the body His presence with His followers had been local and intermittent; in the Spirit He would come to take up His abode with them forever (Jn 14:16). Formerly He had been still external to them, but now was not only to dwell with them, but to be in them (Jn 14:17). Instead of the external voice of their Teacher addressing to them the words of eternal life, they should possess the very Spirit of truth (Jn 14:17), a well-spring of illumination from within, giving them an "understanding" to know Him that is true (1 Jn 5:20); and instead of His visible example before their eyes, an inward community of life with Him like that of the vine and the branches. The complete, vital, permanent union of Christ and His people, which had been prevented by the necessary limitations of a local, corporeal state of existence, would be attained, when for this there was substituted the direct action of Spirit upon spirit.

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Option #2: "Birthing (Baptizing) Babies!"
Rev. Kelly Bedard


Celebrate with me/us the Baptisms this Sunday of two brothers in our preschool! Granted, the subject of infant/child/non-believer Baptism is controversial among Christians. So the following outline from Luther's Small Catechism will be preached with gentleness. In fact, I'll close with admittedly human illustrations--as are most if not all anti-infant Baptism objections I've heard--and, ultimately, a Gospel-centered approach: no infant Baptism as a new law, mind you!

1. Babies are included in the words "all nations" (Matthew 28:19-20: "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit") and in Acts 2:38-39: "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children."

2. Jesus especially invites little children to come to Him (Luke 18:15-17: "People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have Him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to Him and said, 'Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these . I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.'")

3. As sinners, babies need what Baptism offers (John 3:5-6: "No one can enter the kingdom of God unless s/he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to the Spirit"; Ephesians 2:3: "Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.")

4. Babies can possess faith (Matthew 18:6): "If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea."

Illustrations
1. How much love can a baby know and feel? We hug and kiss them, for example, but do they really know what's being expressed to them? Experts--and non-experts!--disagree. Whatever, we continue to express our affection to the little ones because it is one of the only ways we know how. So God and Baptism. Even though we believe infants to a degree can't know and feel God's love, we continue to express it to and through them via Baptism, what someone has termed "the kiss of God."

2. "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:16) Granted, only unbelief condemns, but why burden the conscience with one more thing in the event of the death of an unbaptized child of God? Too, if we wait for Baptism until there is so-called belief/faith/understanding, who is ever ready?

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This page was revised on: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:10:31 PM