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“The Wonderful Umbrella” Seventh Sunday of Easter, May 24th 2009 at Bethlehem in Oakland, CA

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Seventh Sunday of Easter, May 24th 2009

Acts 1:15-17, 21-26 Psalm One  1 John 5: 9—15 John 17:613

The Wonderful Umbrella

Today is the seventh Sunday of Easter. Seven Sundays means that we have had a week of Sundays and seven times seven days gives us 49, which makes next Sunday the fiftieth day or Pentecost in Greek. Last Thursday was Ascension Day, where the risen Lord stopped appearing regularly to the disciples and was lifted up into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, almighty in love. I’ve translated a German Ascension song that goes like this:

1. The Lord Christ Jesus reigns from heaven

To him all power and glory are given.

The whole world is his footstool (repeat).

2. Let all tongues on earth confess him.

He comes to us with crowns of blessing.

His dominion he shall rule (repeat).

Our Gospel lesson shows Jesus getting his disciples ready for his leaving. It is called his High Priestly Prayer. (A priest intercedes for others before God and God listens to him or her. In Jesus’ prayer we overhear the Son speaking to the Father and taking us all up, lifting us all up to be inside the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, into their communion that fellowship divine. Jesus has gathered us together and now we belong to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, because Jesus says to the Father, “They are yours and you gave them to me.” And Jesus is bringing us back to God. Now Jesus is praying about us. He taught us God’s name, the great “I am” and we have received God’s Word and believe that God sent Jesus Christ to save us from our sins.

The wonderful thing is that Jesus is not only praying for the disciples around him in that day, but also for us, we who have come to believe because of their witness, the witness of Peter and Paul, James, Justus, and Matthias; of Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Salome, Lydia, Priscilla, Dorcas and all the other faithful women mentioned in the book of Acts. But Jesus did not only pray for them, but also for each one of us today, for you and me here in Bethlehem.

Remember how I said Monica prayed for her son Augustine for seventeen years? Well, someone far greater is praying for us and for a greater number of years. The Great High Priest himself, the Right hand of God, who is moving in this land, it is He that is praying for us. How could the Father not hear him and respond in our behalf, when his beloved Son asks the Father to protect us, protect us from the evil one, to rescue us when we are lost, and to save us?

My sister Hanna has Lou Gehrig’s disease, (ALS). First she could no longer speak, now she cannot swallow. She needs a neck brace, and I think she needs oxygen at night. Her fingers are also starting to give her trouble. I’m so glad we pray for her here. I also pray for her everyday, but what’s more, Jesus is praying for her, and that gives her a joyful spirit and a cheerful heart, because of her unshakeable trust in God.

Ah, what joy to know, what a strengthening to know that Jesus prays for us! Not only for Hanna, not only for the long list of those we name each Sunday in our Prayer of the Church, but for all of us, for Bethlehem, our communion, our fellowship divine that is in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. And I know that Jesus is also praying for Bishop Mark Holmerud and the upcoming Sierra Pacific Synod Assembly, and for Bishop Mark Hanson and the coming Church-wide Assembly thereafter. Jesus is praying his heart out for us, routing for us in the work of salvation.

Do you know the song, “My Mother Prayed for me”?

Let’s sing it together:

My Mother Prayed for me, had me on her mind,

She took some time to pray for me.

I’m so glad she prayed

I’m so glad she prayed

I’m so glad she prayed for me.

The preacher prayed for me, had me on his mind,

He took some time to pray for me.

I’m so glad he prayed

I’m so glad he prayed

I’m so glad he prayed for me.

But this is better!

My Lord Jesus prayed for me, had me on his mind,

He took some time to pray for me.

I’m so glad he prayed

I’m so glad he prayed

I’m so glad he prayed for me. [1]

Not only did Jesus pray for us, after that prayer, he shed his blood for us, so we are not only a prayed-for-people, but we have been purchased by the precious blood of Jesus and that makes us far more valuable than fine gold, diamonds, platinum, rubies, emeralds, and pearls! No jewels and no amount of money are as valuable as one drop of the precious blood of Jesus. That’s how precious we now are.

So just like Psalm One says, we are blessed. We are happy. Happy are we who do not walk in the counsel of the ungodly; who meditate on God’s law day and night. That is where we really get our life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Without Jesus, what good is the Preamble of our Constitution (that we remember our soldiers are fighting for)? Jesus prays for us. We are the joyful and happy people, who live under the umbrella of the fervent prayers of Jesus Christ himself.

His prayers make us like a tree planted by the rivers of waters, with leaves that do not wither, and who bear our fruit in due season. His prayers make us efficacious! We are not worthless chaff which the winds drives away, but full and hardy kernels of wheat that fall to the ground, then get ground into flour, get baked into bread, so that we become the bread of life, Bread for the World.

The other night, Ron Moore and I saw a Spanish film called “Rudo e Cursi.” He’s retired and he always wants to go to the movies. Well, the film was about two soccer players. It was so sad, because the people in the film were rootless and lacked all inner meaning in their lives.

The mother of the soccer players marries another mobster, who builds her a house on the beach, the way the sons couldn’t. There is so much corruption! At the end the two brothers face off together. When the one brother shoots the ball, the other, who was supposed to miss the ball and lose the game, blocks it by mistake. He had come to the point of betraying his whole team to save his own life. So now winning the game is the worst thing that ever could have happened to him. On his way home, hit men stop his taxi and shoot him. Luckily they did not kill him, they only blew one of his legs off.

Now these are the celebrities that everyone envies and wants to be. They have both feet in this world. All they see is fame and dollar signs in their eyes. These two fellows were into soccer. But they could have been basket ball players or baseball stars, wanting to be celebrities, movie stars in the fast lane, going in high gear and so many of us want to imitate them in first or second gear. What do these celebrities, whose lives are so messed up, know about the stars that are made in heaven? What do they know about the people of God, whom the prayers of Jesus anchor down in an unshakeable trust in God, whose joy is made complete, because they are under the umbrella of the prayers of Jesus Christ?

Won’t you invite some of the people who do not have that mooring in life out of the rain and under the umbrella of the prayers of Jesus? Why leave them out in the rain and the cold?

Ah, all the evil fruit they bear with their cold hearts, their jealousy and revenge, their addictions to alcohol, drugs, success, money, power, and worldly fame. We see the crimes that these evil desires foster among us. We read them in the newspapers, see and hear them in the news. It would fill my sermon with cold blood to report on them here. But under the umbrella of Jesus’ prayers for us, we get a warm heart, beating, throbbing with love and affection. We receive this internal bond of faithfulness. And we can tell a love that is not genuine, which is in love with only the self, who merely milk others for their kindness but share none in return. They are the takers only in it for themselves.

Jesus does not pray to take us out of the world, but sends us into this sorry world to invite the people caught up in this worldly rat-race to come under Christ’s wonderful umbrella. Even though Jesus sends us like sheep among the wolves, he prays that God protect us from the evil one.

The prayers of Jesus give us the strength to witness in this world to the one new world that Jesus tenderly and lovingly rules over. We can’t live out of the present violent, dog-eat-dog, success-driven world, where some are made winners and some losers, some have all the capital and others belong to the debtor class, debtors, way under water, drowning in debt. That’s why we pray: forgive us our debts as we forgive those indebted to us!

The commentator on Psalm One said, when success is the sole motive of action or a calculated belief in reward, or feeling of entitlement, we will be betrayed. True meaning and value in life is not to be found in success as such, but in the joyous and unshakeable trust in God, which cannot be broken, [2] because God remains completely faithful to us.

Ah, when we are moored and anchored in unshakeable trust in God, the One in us is greater than the one in the world and the violent and godless inhuman conditions we live in are overcome in the new selves born out of God’s love. and in these new selves we enter new realities which Jesus won for us in this world through a love that conquers death and gives us a peace that passes understanding.

Verse:

My Lord Jesus prayed for me, had me on his mind,

He took some time to pray for me.

I’m so glad he prayed

I’m so glad he prayed

I’m so glad he prayed for me.

Hey, and Jesus prayed for you, had you on his mind,

He took some time to pray for you.

I’m so glad he prayed

I’m so glad he prayed

I’m so glad he prayed for you.

And Jesus prayed for us, had us on his mind,

He took some time to pray for us.

I’m so glad he prayed

I’m so glad he prayed

I’m so glad he prayed for us.

We are a prayed for people and Jesus precious blood was shed for us! We are all under Jesus’ wonderful umbrella!

Amen.

_______________________________________________

1. “Somebody Prayed for Me” by Dorothy Norwood.

2. Artur Weiser, The Psalms: The Old Testament Library, (Philadelphia: Westminister Press, 1962), pages 102-108, especially p. 104, 106, and 107.

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Written by peterkrey

May 24, 2009 at 9:35 pm

Posted in 1, Selected Sermons

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