Easter 6, (May 10, 2015)
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn
TITLE: â€œAbide in My Loveâ€
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for today is the Gospel just read from St. John chapter fifteen. We focus on the word from verse nine, Abide. I
Today is a great day in the Christian Church, for once again we get to hear three young women give their Amen to the gift of faith that God gave them in their Baptisms. While I am mostly going to address this sermon to them, it is okay if the rest of you listen in while I talk to them.
The word weâ€™re looking at today is the word from our Lord, the word â€œAbideâ€. Itâ€™s not a word we use a lot today. Abide, remain, stay, stick with, it means something like all of that. Itâ€™s actually a military term, originally. Itâ€™s the word they would use when a troop or a legion was commanded to hold a position in a battle. Stay here, the commander would say! Hold this position, donâ€™t give it up for anything or anyone. Our very lives depend upon you not leaving your post.
So this is the word Jesus uses to describe your relationship to Him. Last week we heard Jesus say to the disciples:
â€œAbide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.â€ (John 15:4 ESV)
All your life long the devil, the world, and even your own sinful nature will call out to you to leave the foot of the cross, where you remain as the baptized. Leave that cross, that place in the shadow of our Lordâ€™s death for you, leave that place and everything else falls apart.
And make no mistake, young ones, you will be tempted to leave our Lord for other pastures that make look green and full of life, but are in fact death itself. It is fairly easy to come to the house of God Sunday after Sunday when you have a mother and a father beinging you here. It is pretty easy when the voices that would draw you away are still far away, or their voices donâ€™t sound so alluring, not yet at least.
But hereâ€™s the deal, girls. This isnâ€™t up to you. You didnâ€™t get here, wearing white robes with a pretty flower and a cake later because youâ€™re so awesome. I know, Iâ€™m sorry to disappoint you. Now donâ€™t get me wrong. You are awesome, and a great gift to us and to the world. But thatâ€™s not what got you here. For you are broken, sinful, and will fail if left to yourself. You will. I will. All of us will fail if we are left to ourselves.
But you arenâ€™t left to yourself. Christ Himself abides in you, given to you in your Baptism so many years ago. Today isnâ€™t about you and how great your promises are. Today is about our Lord, Jesus Christ, and about how in His great mercy He chooses His young ones, delivers them from sin and death, and sets them up as His Sons and Daughters, His Brothers and Sisters in His heavenly kingdom. Psalm ninety one begins with this promise:
â€œHe who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.â€ (Psalms 91:1 ESV)
You are in the shelter of the Most High. You have been covered with the righteousness of Christ. Those white robes you wear arenâ€™t because you are graduating. Sorry. They are a reminder to you and to us of the white robe of righteousness that is yours by faith in the Son of God, that same faith that He planted in you in your Baptism.
But something even more amazing happens. Not only does God pluck you up from sin and death and make you His children, He also uses you as His hands and feet in the world. He gives you good works to do, works that you may not even know that you are doing. Hear again the words of Jesus:
â€œYou did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.â€ (John 15:10, 16 ESV)
In other words, beloved, your life matters, and you are in the palm of Godâ€™s hands, and He has great plans for you and everything you do in His Name. Today you confess the faith that God gave to you in your baptism. That is true not only for you, but for all of us gathered here today.
And perhaps most importantly, for most of you this is your first Sunday receiving Christâ€™s body and blood in the Lordâ€™s Supper. When Jesus says â€œAbide in my love,â€ this is what He is talking about. It is His Body and Blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins, it is His Body and Blood that strengthens you and gives you life in His Name. God creates by His Word, and so when He says to you Abide in Me, He creates the faith to do so.
So come, sons and daughters, come and receive the gift of life everlasting in His Name. Come and rejoice that God continues to grow His Church, and give young and old new life in His name. Come and rejoice and be glad at His Table, for this is where you belong.
Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.