We Are Not Alone

Memorial Day weekend ushers in the wonderful time of summer in Minnesota. For many of us, this holiday includes a visit to the grave of a loved one and maybe a picnic with family or friends. This holiday is also a time when we especially remember those who served in our armed forces and have now gone on to their eternal reward. Memorial Day is a time to remember.

In our gospel this weekend, we continue to read from John, chapter 14. Jesus was preparing his disciples for his death and resurrection. The disciples wanted Jesus to be with them always. They didn’t realize that in accomplishing the Father’s plan, Jesus would exchange his life for our sin. By rising from the dead, Jesus forever banished sin and death and made a way to eternity for us.

During the days preceding and following his death, Jesus gave his disciples the gift of peace. In our gospel this weekend, Jesus offers these words of comfort to his followers:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”

I don’t know about you, but I need to hear these words and reflect on them over and over again in my heart. There is so much in our world today that tries to take our peace from us. Our news media has become a vehicle for much negativity and criticism of anyone who is in the public eye.  Our fast-paced, news-driven world creates an atmosphere in which we are constantly being bombarded with information.  The negative stories we read and hear about things happening around us and in other parts of the world can rob of us our peace, if we are not careful to listen for God’s voice. His voice is always a voice of truth.

Jesus wanted his disciples and us to know that He is always with us. Most of us have no trouble finding Jesus on a sunshine-filled morning, when we gather to worship together as a community. We may find it challenging to find Jesus when we are faced with the trials of life. I routinely meet brothers and sisters in Christ, who are dealing with very sad and trying situations in their personal lives. For some, it is a long period of suffering and illness.  For others, they are challenged by the tragedy and shock of death, especially when it is unexpected. Others struggle with the day to day reality of having to get up and face a challenging work or family situation.

In his words to the disciples, Jesus reminds them that the Holy Spirit would be sent by the Father saying, “He will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”  These words are meant to encourage us in whatever struggle we might face in this earthly life. It is easy to get distracted, agitated, or even afraid when life throws something difficult in our path. We must remember that Jesus came to bring us life and to be with us forever. Jesus is never closer to us than in times of difficulty and pain.

The beautiful message of our gospel this weekend is simple: we are not alone! God walks with us through every sunny day, as well as those that are cloudy and dark. I often turn to the fourteenth chapter of John when I am feeling weak,  challenged, or uncertain. Jesus’ love for his disciples and for us shines so powerfully through the words of his Gospels. We are not alone. Our loved ones will pass from this world and we will feel alone at times. God’s promise to be with us always has never changed. Let us hold fast to the promise of the One who gave his life for us and who never leaves us or fails us.

May God Bless You!
Deacon Tim

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