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Monday, May 23 2016

Pastor Randy

John 16:12-15

    How many of you think that you are a know it all? Let’s see a show of hands.  Anybody?  No hands went up.  How many of you know someone who thinks they are a know it all?  A few of you.

    I think we all know someone who thinks that they know it all.  Or – or – the person who thinks that they know more than you do – and they do not hesitate to let you know that.

    Well, the rest of us know better.  Or at least I hope we know better.  I hope that if there is one thing that we know – is that we don’t know everything.  But thank God there are a lot of things – a lot of things – that we do know.  All of us.  The same things.  Different things.  But there is stuff that we all know.  But again – the one thing that I hope we all do know – is that we do not know everything.  

    There’s a good reason why there are no know it all’s here today.  Because a know-it-all probably doesn’t need to be here today – at least not for the sermon part of our worship service.  Because a know-it-all already knows it all – and there’s nothing new that Pastor Becca or I can tell you.  SO if you really do think you are a know-it-all – feel free to just zone out for the next few minutes.

    So where do we learn to know what it is we do know?  Lots of places.  Like high school and college.  As you know, the second year of high school and college is called the sophomore year.  Did you know that the word sophomore comes from two Greek words?  “Sophos” – which means wise – and moron which means, well, moron.  Or fool.  Put them together and you get “a wise fool.”  So a sophomore – is someone who – having learned a great deal in the freshman year – now thinks that they know everything.  Well – that’s not really fair to sophomores – but that’s where the word comes from.  “Someone who is confident of knowledge, but poorly informed and immature.”  Got that from the dictionary.

    As I said, none of us is a know-it-all, but every one of us knows something about something.  I sometimes think I know a little about a lot of things, but don’t consider myself to be an expert at anything.  And there are some things that I wish I knew more about.  My education did not end in high school – or college – or seminary.
    If I could go back to being a student – a professional student – if someone were to pay me to go back to school – I might consider doing that.  But I can’t.  

    There are still so many things that I just don’t understand, that I would like to learn more about.  At my age, I wish I could just snap my fingers, and have instant knowledge about – whatever.  Because I can only read so much – or take in so much – before my brain turns to mush.  So unfortunately – getting knowledge – gaining understanding – takes time.  Sometimes lots of time.  And study.  And experimentation.  And reflection.  

    And that’s why Jesus’ words in John’s gospel today really caught my attention.  Jesus is in the upper room with his disciples.      He is saying, “Good bye,” to his disciples.  And he tells them, “I still have many things I want to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”  

    Now wait a minute.  Jesus is about to be betrayed and arrested.  He is about to be crucified.  Since those things are about to happen in the next 24 hours – then when are the disciples going to get a chance to hear the many other things that Jesus wants to say to them?

    Well, listen to what Jesus says next.  “When the Spirit of Truth comes,” – Jesus is talking about the Holy Spirit now – “When the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth…He will declare to you the things that are to come.”  A few verses earlier Jesus told his disciples that the Holy Spirit will “remind you of all that I have said to you.”  All those other things that Jesus wants to say to the disciples?  That will be the work of the Holy Spirit. This is one of those times when it’s important to pay attention to the verbs.  The verbs – the four action words here – are “guide,” “speak,”  “declare,” and “remind.”    Guide, speak, declare, remind.  That’s what the Holy Spirit does.  

    But the Holy Spirit does more than guide, speak, declare and remind.  Little test time here.  Last week Pastor Becca told us four other things the Holy Spirit does.  If you weren’t here last week, just sit back and take notes.

    Are you ready?  Those four things are, what?  I’ll give you a hint:

1.    The Holy Spirit catches our what?  That’s right.  Our attention.  Did the Holy Spirit just catch your attention?  Okay, good.
2.    The Holy Spirit points us to? Jesus.
3.    The Holy Spirit creates – believers.  Disciples.  Hey, you guys are good!
4.    And what’s the fourth thing?  The Holy Spirit encourages us to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others.
    Hey!  Have you ever wondered why we hold worship services every single weekend – 52 weeks every year?  Do you know why we hear the same Scripture passages in a repeating cycle every three years?  (By the way, that cycle is called a lectionary.  Write it down.  Will there be a test.)  Do you know why I repeated those four things that the Holy Spirit does that Pastor Becca told us about last week?  

    I’ll tell you why.  Because we are NOT know-it-alls.  Sometimes there are some things that we forget.  There are some things that I sometimes forget.  And the older I get the more forget.  I still have a great memory, but I’ve also got a good forgetter.

    SO I need to be reminded.  I need to hear things over and over again.  I need the words and the teachings of the Scriptures re-declared to me.  I need the Holy Spirit to remind me of all that Jesus has said.  There are certain new things I need to hear.  Certain lessons – certain old things told to me again – explained in a new way – things that I heard and learned in the past – that I need to hear again.  Week after week.  Year after year.

    Let me tell you something.  My Christian education did not end on the day I was confirmed way back on May 5, 1968 at St. James Lutheran Church in Bergholz, NY.  In case you’re counting, that’s 48 years ago!  And quite frankly – neither did yours.  

    And I find it interesting – when I look at all those confirmation pictures on the wall in the fellowship hall – you know – it’s also called the “Watch Pastor Randy grow old wall,” – but I stand at that wall sometimes and I think a) those young folks – those young folks must think they know it all – or b) I must be a whiz of a teacher, because all too often, our kids get confirmed – we throw them a party – and we send them on their way.  

    And sadly, some of them I never see again.  But thank God a good number do come back – or move away and join a church somewhere else.  And that’s a good thing.  For some, it’s a good number of years.  Truth be told, it was true for people of my generation, too.   But they get married.  Have children of their own.  And those kids are getting baptized and filling our Sunday School classes.  And then we ask their parents to teach those same Sunday School classes – and THEN they’ll say, “I don’t know enough to teach.”  

    “Well, gee!  I thought after you were confirmed you knew it all.”  But reality sets in.  And they realize that – just like the rest of us – they don’t know it all.

    No.  None of us is a know-it-all.  Especially when it comes to knowing who God is.  Now – to be sure –we CAN know God.  Remember – there is a difference between knowing God, and knowing about God.  We can know God – and we most certainly CAN be known by Him.  But who God is – that’s a bit of a mystery.  

    Today – this weekend – is Holy Trinity Sunday.  We talk about God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  One God, not three gods.  And as I tell you every year on this day – and this is the part that blows my mind – we believe in and we worship a one-person God in three persons.  This is how God has revealed God’s own self to us.

    It’s a mystery.  And I’m okay with mystery.  What we know – is that we don’t know – we don’t understand everything there is to know about God.

    But here’s what we do know:
•    God the Father is the Creator of all things.
•    We know that Jesus Christ – through his life, death and resurrection – forgives sinners – and promises eternal life with God.
•    We know that the Holy Spirit is the present work of Christ among us – who gets our attention—points us to Jesus – creates believers – encourages us to share the Good News message of Jesus Christ – and reminds us of all that Jesus says to us.  

        Quite frankly – we don’t need to know more than that.  AND – AND – thank God we’re not saved by what we know.  Since none of us is know it all’s – none of us would make it.  The promises of God – life – forgiveness – salvation – are ours as a gift of God’s grace received through faith – and not by how much we know.  

        And what I want you to know is that God loves you.  God cares about you.  God is interested in you.  He wants us to grow in faith.  He wants us to grow closer to Him, and to develop a greater love for each other.  

    And that’s why we hold worship services 52 weeks every year.  There’s no way any one of us can “get it” in just one or two sittings.  And those of you who are going through confirmation classes right now?  You’re not going to get to know it all in two years either.  Even if Pastor Becca is a dynamite teacher!  Even if I am a whiz of a teacher!

    Lord save us from sophomoric Christianity.  Save us from thinking we know it all.      Let me tell ya something.  When it comes to faith – I want to grow in faith some way every day.  When it comes to learning more about the Bible, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the things of God – I want to learn at least one new thing every day.  And if that’s where you’re at today too – then don’t be surprised when you see in yourself – or in someone that you love – a leap of faith.  A new depth in understanding.  Change.  Transformation.

    You see – God’s not finished with you yet.  I don’t care how old you are – God’s not finished with you yet.  We are just beginning to go deeper – to grow deeper – in knowledge and in faith and in love.  

    If you think you know it all, then watch out!  The Lord is full of surprises.  The Lord has so much more in store for you.  And that’s why we gather here— that’s why we meet – every weekend – 52 weeks a year.


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Zion Lutheran Church
9535 Clarence Center Road

PO Box 235
Clarence Center, NY 14032
Phone: 716-741-2656

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