Orphan, no more

 

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child, a long way from home

 

I prepared this song for a recital I did some years ago, and I sang it for a friend as a dress rehearsal.

        It was my friend Maris, who lived two doors down and was raising adopted twins from Russia.

                The twins had spent the first two years of their lives living in the ‘baby home’ in Russia

                and when they first arrived with Maris and her husband, needed a lot of cuddling and reassurance.

        At the time I was preparing for my recital, the boys had been in the US almost two years

and they were by all measures happy and healthy four year olds.

 

As I sang the song, however, I couldn’t stop thinking about the years the twins spent in the baby home.

        They were orphans, given up at birth because the family could not care for them.

                For those years they had no mother, no father, no home to return to.

                        But not only that, Maris herself had lost her mother at the age of 10.

                Her mother had died in a car crash, and Maris in large part had to raise herself and her younger sister.

        Maris was a motherless child caring for motherless children.

         I suddenly became aware of the devastation of abandonment, what it is like to feel totally alone.

The feeling was so powerful that I started to cry and had to stop singing.

 

This is the prospect the disciples were facing in our Gospel lesson.

        It’s part of Jesus’ farewell speech on his last night with his disciples before his death.

                The disciples were pretty distressed:

                Jesus had been saying that he was leaving them, that someone would betray him.

        They didn’t exactly know what he meant, but worried about Jesus and the truth of his predictions;

they also worried about themselves, and how they would function without him.

 

So Jesus reassures them in our lesson today: “I will not leave you orphaned.”

        Unlike the death of a parent, Jesus was not leaving his disciples permanently.

                In fact, he promised them he would come back.

        “In a little while the world will no longer see me,” Jesus says, “but you will see me—

        I am coming to you.”

Jesus promises to prepare a place for his disciples, so that where he is, his disciples will be there also.

 

And yet, Jesus was not just promising the disciples some future ‘mansion,’

a heavenly reward that leaves them alone until they follow Jesus in death.

        Instead Jesus promised his followers that he would be present with them in their daily living.

        “I will ask the Father, and he will send you another Advocate, to be with you forever.”

                The ‘Advocate’ Jesus was referring to was his Spirit.

        This Spirit was their direction connection to Jesus and the Father; as Jesus said,

“You will know that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, and you in me and I in you.”

Jesus’ Spirit would live in anyone who loved him, and would not leave them no matter what happened.

 

As the disciples’ connection to Jesus and the Father, the Spirit is a pretty useful companion.

        Jesus says that the Spirit would remind the disciples of what Jesus said,

        and teach them what they needed to know.

                 Jesus calls his Spirit ‘the Advocate.’

                        An Advocate is someone who supports and speaks on behalf of another’s welfare.

                This Spirit would direct them into the truth, guide them in their decisions,

        stand up for them when they needed it.

The Spirit would bring them a sense of peace that could not be taken away.

 

I don’t know about you, but despite all Jesus’ words about the Spirit sometimes it seems like a foreign concept –

        It’s doable to understand God the creator and Jesus, God with us as a human being.

                But the Spirit is slippery—what does it mean to have Jesus’ spirit with us always?

        How do you experience this Spirit and follow her guidance?

Some say the Lutherans are the frozen chosen, focused on theology unmoved by spiritual feeling.

 

But we have had experiences of the Spirit right here at Our Savior’s.

        It’s happened in the comfort of listening ear and in the liveliness of the children.

                Our worship space is transformed  when we share healing prayer—

                we all feel something is happening that goes way beyond cure to a sense of wholeness and community.

        We sense the Spirit’s beckoning was we are welcomed by the folks at Grace Friday Night Gathering

or plan for our own welcoming of homeless families into church space as we work toward launching FP. 

 

It’s important to remember these touchstone experiences,

because there are times when all of us feel orphaned, lonely or forsaken.

        There are times when we feel a long way from home and even a long way from being ourselves.

                Yet the Spirit is working within as a source of internal strength

                The Spirit is the voice that comes from deep within when you are quiet enough to hear it

                a life compass that points due north.

        The Spirit is sustains hope when all other indicators point to loss.

In remembering our experiences of the Spirit,

we remember that we are connected to Jesus no matter how disconnected we feel.

 

There are many orphans in our world today:

        AIDS orphans, refugees fleeing war, child soldiers in Sudan,

        young people in the juvenile justice system

                and foster children abandoned by parents and bounced from home to home.

        Right here in our town there are people who are isolated, with little family or friends.

The same Spirit that comforts and guides us works within us to teach us how to reach out to others

how to be Jesus’ healing hands and travelling feet in the world today.

 

 

 

I sang, sometimes I feel like a motherless child that day—

but Maris’ twins were not orphans anymore.

        Maris and Austin gave them a home, adopted two more children

        not to mention their friends and church kids and neighbors

                Like them, we can love the orphans God places in our midst, whether they are literal orphans

        or simply people cut off from the community and wholeness they once knew.

We are a small church—but that means we have a warmth and can easily make a place for a newcomer

people don’t get lost here

We are well positioned to provide a home and a welcome for those who need it.

 

Today is Pentecost and the message for us is that we are orphans no more.

The Spirit of Jesus lives in us.

The Spirit of Jesus will guide us and keep us

until the day when all the orphans of the world will be welcomed and have a home.

 

 

Children’s Sermon

I’ve got my Pentecost paraphernalia with me today (pull out hair dryer, fan, leaf blower)

What do these have to do with Pentecost?

 

Wind—same word as Spirit  ruach

Like the Spirit that moved over the waters before God created the earth

the Spirit breath that was breathed into Adam’s nostrils

this same Spirit creates a new creation--the believers community

 

But what’s the problem here?  I am not getting any wind???

 

Oh… power cord!!  Need electricity!

Likewise, we need to be connected to the Source—our power source—Jesus!

The Holy Spirit that came the day of Pentecost is that connection.  Spirit of Jesus.

so we can do God’s work with power—greater things even than Jesus did, as our Gospel says. 

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