THE CHURCH HAS LEFT THE BUILDING

Our Gospel reading is from John. If you love me you will keep my commandments. And, I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. I will not leave you orphaned, I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them. (John 14:15-21)

What do you think it means when Jesus says: “If you love me you will keep my commandments”? What commandments is being referred to here? For example in the Torah we are told not to mix two different types of material together, like linen and cotton. (Leviticus 19:19). Or what about this one: “If your children are disobedient and belligerent you should take them into the city square where they will be stoned to death” (Deuteronomy 18:18-21)

Or is Jesus referring to the 10 commandments. The first three have to do loving God, our vertical side of worship; (1) avoid idols; (2) avoid putting other things or other choices ahead of loving God (3) Do not swear by or use the Lords name in vain.The next 6 commands are horizontal, the Golden Rule, Do unto others what you would have them do unto you. The commands are to (4) love your father and mother; (5) Do not murder; (6) Do not commit adultery; (7) Do not steal; (8) Do not bear false witness and (9) Do not covet. The last commandment has to do with self-care. (10) Remember the Sabbath and keep it as a holy day of rest.

So all of these commandments can be summed up into one commandment in two parts or we can refer to it as one coin with two sides. Or we can picture it as a cross, with a vertical part of the cross and horizontal part of the dross. Jesus says that all the commandments can be summed up in this ONE commandment. We are to love God, and that is the vertical commitment. And, we are to love others, and that others includes ourselves, and this is the horizontal commitment of the cross. You can’t have one without the other.

And, on this foundation Jesus will send to us an Advocate, someone that will defend us and speak on our behalf forever. He will abide with us and we will abide with him. When does this happen? What happens in two weeks? What feast Day will be celebrating? That’s right. It’s the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit comes into the first church gathering in Jerusalem via means of a mighty wind and tongues of fire. The church is born and the Holy Spirit, the Advocate is sent to live forever with us, and among us.

I will not leave you orphaned, I am coming to you. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.The Advocate and Comforter is with us today. We don’t have to wait for the Day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit has already come into the church. We Celebrate the birthday of the Church on the Day of Pentecost, a Pentecostal Church that was born by power and fire. A church that is not defined by walls or borders.

We have learned in the past two months that the church is not confined by walls, buildings and grounds.

The Church is not a building. The church has left the building. The sanctuary waits to welcome us back. And we will come back to worship in our physical gathering place, sometime after the Day of Pentecost, a Pentecostal Church, renewed and full of the Fire of the Spirit. But, for now the church has left the building, but we are still the church.

Amen.

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