Anything But Ordinary

Sunday, May 29, 2016
Christ Lutheran Church – Manchester, PA
Luke 7:1-10

 

When we hear the word ordinary, what do we usually think? Plain, simple, common, normal. The dictionary describes ordinary as “of no special quality or interest, commonplace, unexceptional, and somewhat inferior.” Ordinary is therefore a word that doesn’t leave us feeling great. We don’t want to be just ordinary and we don’t want our time to be ordinary. Our calendars are highlighted with days that are extraordinary – holidays, vacations, and celebrations.

The Christian church’s calendar, called the liturgical calendar, highlights special seasons of the church year – Advent, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, and other church festivals – and each has colors associated with them. After Pentecost now, and Trinity Sunday, we now are in the season of the church year after Pentecost known as Ordinary Time. This ordinary time will extend all the way through to the season of Advent. The color associated with it is green to symbolize new life and growth. It’s the time that we as a church devote to growing in our faith. But you might wonder why on earth we call it ordinary time? Couldn’t we have come up with a better name than that? But rather than meaning common or mundane, the word ordinary in the church calendar comes from the Latin word ordinal or counted time – the first Sunday after Pentecost, the second Sunday after Pentecost, etc., all the way to the 26th Sunday after Pentecost and then Christ the King Sunday, and the beginning of Advent in November. Ordinary time in the church is a different way to count time. It’s a period where we have an opportunity to focus on growing in our faith and looking at things differently than we ordinarily do. It’s a time of renewal, which we as a congregation have committed to do.

The story from our gospel reading today is a perfect example of what happens on an ordinary day. Jesus had just finished a time of preaching to the crowds. More and more people were hearing about Jesus. They were talking about what he was saying. They were telling their friends the healings that happened because of him. Everyone was talking about Jesus. By the time he got to the town of Capernaum, a beautiful fishing village on the north shore of the sea of Galilee even the people there had heard of Jesus. So this ordinary walk of traveling to Capernaum was anything but ordinary for Jesus. The words he spoke were touching people’s hearts in profound ways. His words were making them think about life differently. They were thinking about people differently. Jesus told people that God’s kingdom was for everyone. He said everyone was our neighbor. He told them love was greater than the law; love was the greatest commandment. Jesus’ words and Jesus’ touch healed people. His words and his touch were anything but ordinary.

And that’s what one Roman centurion soldier realized when he heard about Jesus. This soldier was an important figure in the Roman military. He was responsible for the training and discipline of many men under his command. He gave out orders and expected them carried out. This centurion set the standard for worthiness. It would seem then that this centurion was quite worthy of respect. He was different than a lot of the soldiers. He valued the servant he had. This centurion cared about this individual, and now the servant was gravely sick and needed healing. The servant, to him, seemed worthy of healing.

So the centurion told the Jewish elders to speak to Jesus on his behalf and they did. They respected this centurion because they were allowed to practice their religion and he even built their synagogue. These elders went to Jesus and spoke up for the centurion saying he was worthy of having Jesus heal his servant.And Jesus went to the centurion’s house. But when the centurion saw him he asked his friends to deliver a message to Jesus. Only the message was not that he was worthy, but that he was unworthy. “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed.” The centurion who commanded authority heard the kind of authority and power Jesus had and recognized his own unworthiness compared to Jesus.

It was the hearing of the Jesus’ words that changed the centurion’s heart to recognize Jesus and it was hearing the centurion’s faith that amazed Jesus. That’s what faith does. It changes, it amazes, it transforms.It doesn’t merely believe based on what we see, but on the hearing of God’s word. Words when mixed with the divine heal people and they are no longer ordinary. Water when mixed with God’s word is anything but ordinary water. Bread and wine mixed with God’s word is anything but ordinary bread and wine. The words of forgiveness and love we speak to each other when mixed with the power of the Holy Spirit are anything but ordinary words. They are the words of faith that give hope and healing.

Standing in the place where your home once stood, but is now destroyed from a tornado and saying “only say the word and I shall be healed” is a living faith. Watching fire destroy your house or your loved ones and saying, “only say the word and I shall be healed” is a living faith. Losing your job yet believing that God will provide a way and saying, “only say the word and I shall be healed” is a living faith. Experiencing any kind of loss or disappointment and saying, “only say the word and I shall be healed” is a living faith.

We see devastation around us and hear the voices of fear and we are tempted to fall into despair, but hearing the word of God we see the promises of God instead of the hopelessness. Faith allows us to see the sun that is above the clouds. Faith allows us to see the joy that will spring forth from our tears. Faith allows us to see that though we are under siege from all kinds of suffering, we have a God who walks with us and will not abandon us. Despite what things look like now, faith keeps our eyes on the Source of our life, our hope and our joy in Jesus Christ.

We have a priceless gift from God. When we gather together in worship we hear God’s holy words in the Scriptures and are healed. When we celebrate Holy Communion, we are given the very gift of Jesus – the Word made flesh – to come inside us and transform us. The Word now living inside us heals us from the inside and transforms us into the body of Christ for the world.

No matter what the storms of life may bring we are not alone. The wings of the Holy Spirit surround us and guide us to Christ. They guide us to the Word that breathes new life into our troubled souls. None of us are worthy to receive Him, but we are all invited to this table of grace anyway, and we are made worthy because of Christ. It is God’s gift to us. God speaks to us and comes to us through this gift of love and grace and Jesus only has to say the word and we are healed.

During this ordinary time may we grow in our faith, renew ourselves and our congregation through studying Scripture, listening to what the Holy Spirit is calling us to do, praying constantly, speaking Jesus’ words of love and peace, and being the healing instruments of Christ here on earth. During this ordinary time – this season of counting time – may we count it differently and make it count by keeping our focus on Jesus knowing when we do our time is anything but ordinary. Amen.

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Related to the Great Mystery

Trinity Sunday – May 22, 2016
Christ Lutheran Church – Manchester, PA
John 16:12-15
Romans 5:1-5

 

Last week we celebrated the feast day of Pentecost. Other than Christmas and Easter this is the biggest days in the church because on Pentecost the disciples received the gift of the Holy Spirit. That means that on Pentecost we celebrate the birthday of the church, and if you were here you know we had balloons going all over the church! And because the church is the people of God, those first disciples became the first church. After receiving the Holy Spirit, they were no longer afraid. They had a confidence and a boldness they never had before to go out and tell everyone about Jesus and the resurrection. They were empowered by the Holy Spirit to tell their story. We don’t know why or how the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples like tongues of fire, but faith is not about asking us to try and figure it out. Faith is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to believe.

This Sunday is Trinity Sunday. On this day we celebrate and worship the fullness of God – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit or we could say Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. Again, we don’t understand how God can be three in One, but we accept this by faith. It is a holy mystery that cannot be understood, at least not until we are with God face to face. Until that time, we believe it because Jesus’ words are true. Jesus’ said, “blessed are they who have not seen and yet believe.” There are many things that we cannot see, yet we know they exist. Take for example, the stars. If you look up on a starry night, you may see hundreds of stars, but the reality is that there are billions that we can’t see due to light pollution or other factors. Scientists have not been able to determine exactly how many starts exists. There’s a star that they believe is out beyond the Oort Cloud that only comes close enough to be observed every 32 million years. That length of time between observational periods would explain why a human has never proven its existence. But just because we can’t explain it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. We don’t have all the answers right now to our questions about science or theology, but one thing we can understand is that somehow we are all related.

While spending time on a Native American reservation in North Dakota, I learned that the Lakota people have a saying for this relationship. Mitakuye Oyasin means all are related. God who gave us life, humans, animals, plants, the ocean, the sky, the earth……all of creation is related to each other. We are all created and connected to the Triune God who is the Great Mystery. God is all about relationships. The very core of God is relational. The Father/Creator, Son, and Holy Spirit, are all in relationship with each other and because of Jesus, in relationship with us through the power of the Holy Spirit. In a time when people long for deep relationships this is more than just a little Good News!

And it’s especially Good News for the young people in our congregation making their confirmation today because when they were baptized as babies they had no idea just how remarkable a gift they were being given. And that goes for all of us here today as well. We had no idea the significance of that day and how we entered into a relationship not only with Jesus, but with the Triune God – the Father/Creator, Son, and Holy Spirit – the Great Mystery. We had no idea that we became part of not only a congregation of people that have supported them over the years, but part of a larger church – our synod, the ELCA, and the entire Christian Church. When we were baptized we entered into a relationship that was far bigger than we ever could have dreamed. We are part of a global church that began with the first twelve disciples and continue to grow through the power of the Holy Spirit working through each and every one of us. Through our baptism we have been given the task to make disciples of all people. This may seem like a daunting task, but we have the promise of the Holy Spirit with us, but we must do our part.

When we were baptized our parents, sponsors, and our congregation promised to support us in our faith formation. They promised to teach us to pray regularly, to study the bible, and to grow in our faith through bringing us to Sunday School classes and worship services. This congregation made these promises to these young people making their confirmation today – a confirmation or affirmation of their baptism. Now that they are old enough to know why they were baptized, they are making those same commitments to grow in their faith as disciples. That is why confirmation like graduation – is not an end of something, it is a new beginning. It’s a life passage in their life of faith that they will now pass from students to more mature Christians. Confirmation means the beginning of taking our life as a Christian to the next level.

What does this next level mean? It means being all in, like those first disciples after receiving the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. We cannot silently wait for others to come to our congregation; we must actively invite them to know Jesus. We must make knowing Christ and making Christ known the focus of everything we do. We have to make faith our priority and not the second, or third, or last thing on our list. The first disciples were committed to going out and telling their story of how Jesus changed their lives and what he meant to them. Our confirmands each selected a scripture verse that means a lot to them. It’s one that will help guide them in their life. Their lives will not always be filled with ease. All three of them have already experienced deep losses in their lives. They have had struggles and will have many more struggles, but there is something that they and all of us who follow Jesus have that others do not yet know about. We have the assurance that no matter what challenges we face, God is right there with us. And us is an important word because we are all in this together. We are all related. What happens to one of us happens to all of us.

This is why St. Paul in his letter to the Roman church said, “we boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, an character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hears through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” Paul is addressing an entire church of believers in this letter. He is saying that we are in this together. Paul is not saying that suffering is good, but what he is saying is that when we share our suffering together we are able to endure. Those give up their time and care for us when we’re sick, who study with us, who stay up late and talk with us to ease our anxieties, who provide transportation for us, who pray for us – these and countless other acts of love are ways we endure together and it produces a character of us collectively as a church. We are then known as a church – a group of believers – that no matter what happens to us we are faithful to God. Afflictions are not a sign of God’s displeasure; they are not punishments from God. Instead how we respond to them are signs of the faithfulness of God’s people holding onto the promises from God. That is a bold witness to those who are not yet believers, and it is that character that is shaped by the presence of the Holy Spirit that leads people to know Jesus too.

On this Trinity Sunday we all have the opportunity to re-affirm our baptismal promises. To proclaim that we worship a God who is too big to be described with only a few words. To witness to a Triune God who is in constant relationship with us and will never abandon us no matter what the circumstance. To tell our story of how much God has done for us by creating us, redeeming us, and sustaining us with boundless love and grace. Today is the day with the power of the Holy Spirit that we pray Come, Holy Spirit, and live in me, speak through me, work through me so that people will come to know Jesus through us. Come, Holy Spirit, Come. Amen!

Are We Still On Fire?

Pentecost Sunday – May 8, 2016
Christ Lutheran Church – Manchester, PA
John 14:8-17 (25-27)

 

Wild wind, tongues of fire, visions, dreams, prophesies, noise…..these are the images of Pentecost. When the Spirit is poured out nothing is the same. Things are stirred up. Doors are unlocked. People are transformed. Can we still see it?

We can replicate the sound of the wind and the image of fire, but Pentecost is not just a reenactment like the civil war re-enactments in Gettysburg of events that happened a long time ago. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit will be with us always. Can we still feel it?

God gave the prophet Joel words to speak: “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.” That means you and I today. The Spirit did not just descend on the disciples that first Pentecost, but is still descending on us today. The Spirit is giving us dreams with messages from God, visions of what God’s kingdom on earth can look like, prophecies to speak to each other and to those whom the Spirit calls us to speak. Do we still hear them?

Do you still think that Pentecost is an event that happened long ago? Look again. The Spirit is still moving. The Spirit is still speaking. The Spirit is still working in the world. The Spirit is alive in this very place. Look around. We are all gathered here today because the Holy Spirit has called us from wherever we were to gather us together. Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together there am I.” Jesus promised that he would be present among us and the Holy Spirit has brought us here. Some people may ask, “why? Why come together when I can just as easily think about Jesus and pray on my own?” Because something special happens when a group of Christians gather together to worship and praise God. All that praising, all that singing, all that praying together is a powerful force.

A single drop of water is hardly noticeable, but a steady flow of water changes things. It forms gullies, rivers, lakes, and oceans. It changes the landscape. A single brush of color on a canvas hardly makes sense, but many strokes put together create a masterpiece that changes the way we see the world. A single letter on a page hardly can convey a message, but put those letters together and they form messages that can change a person’s life forever. And a group of disciples gathering together, sharing a common dream from God, working toward that vision creates an atmosphere where people can experience Jesus right here. The Holy Spirit is still moving among us.

Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John. 14:12) Greater works than Jesus? It seems unbelievable. How could we do greater works than Jesus who cured the sick, healed the lame, made the dead to rise again? Yet, if we read the Acts of the Apostles, which should really be entitled the Acts of the Holy Spirit, we will see that they in fact did perform great miracles. How? Because Jesus ascended to the Father and the Holy Spirit now came to live in them. And that same Holy Spirit lives in each one of us today. When we were baptized we were sealed by the Holy Spirit. Those weren’t just words. It really happened.

The Holy Spirit – the wind or breath of God -calls, gathers, enlightens and sends us forth into the world to be missionaries wherever we are. Each one of us is called and sent to share our experience of Jesus with others. Our lives are living gospels. What story are they telling? Are we sharing with others the wonderful things that God is doing in our lives? When we talk with people are we moved to tears by the wonderful things that God has done for us? Are we moved to tears by just how real Jesus is in our lives and we don’t know where we would be without him? Are we so in love with Jesus that we can’t wait for others to hear about how fabulous he is and so we invite them to church to experience him for themselves? Or are we afraid to share our story? Like what happened to the early disciples, are we afraid people may think we are drunk because we are so passionate about sharing our experiences of Jesus with others?

What if people starting asking us, “What’s gotten into them?” What’s gotten into those disciples at Christ Lutheran Church – and that’s what we’re called to be, disciples of Jesus. Are we as on fire as the disciples that first Pentecost? I have to say, from the looks of the entire Christian church it doesn’t seem that way. We’ve lost the fire! We think that Pentecost happened centuries ago, but the truth is Pentecost didn’t just happen once. It happens all the time. When’s the last time you experienced Pentecost? It’s a great question. When will our next Pentecost be here at Christ Lutheran Church? When will we be so on fire with the Holy Spirit that people wonder what’s gotten into us? When will we be so busy doing mission and ministry that it seems like we are all crazy? I hope it starts today. The Holy Spirit calls us to do just that.

You might say, yes I believe, but we can’t cure people or raise them from the dead, or solve our financial problems. No, we can’t, but God can through the power of the Holy Spirit.We spend our days worrying, when we have a power among us greater than any force on earth! We have to believe in that power again! ”You will do greater works than these..” Those are exciting, yet somewhat scary words from Jesus. Yet he says, “Be not afraid.” The Holy Spirit is powerful, but it is a power that we don’t have to be afraid of. It may mean that the Spirit will ask us to do things different than we’ve ever done them before, but God’s Holy Spirit always leads to life and light and that is nothing to fear.

I remember a few years ago I was cleaning up my yard in the fall and there was this rose bush that just looked dead. The flowers were dead and hard and there was no sign of life in it at all. I cut all the branches off and then cut it back until it was just a stub on the ground. Then I was going to dig it up. Well, I forgot about it and the next spring when I went back to clean up after the long snowy winter, there it was with fresh green leaves on it. I couldn’t believe it! This once dead bush had now come back to life. The winter was long and hard, and it took its toll on the plant, but something was happening underground – deep below the surface where it wasn’t evident. It was being transformed.

It’s like that for us as well. We can’t always see what is going on deep inside of us, but the Holy Spirit is working in us, at times, pruning us, letting what is not helpful to us die off and creating in us new life. New life can and will happen when the Holy Spirit is involved. New life can spring out of relationships that seem dead. New life can spring out of lives that are broken. New life can spring out of churches that need revival so they can be witnesses to the resurrection. The Holy Spirit is active as we are gathered together expectantly waiting for new life to appear in what once seemed dead. It’s never too late to begin again. We have to be open to dream dreams and see visions again. No matter what disappointments the past has brought, it’s time to dream again with hope and promise. And that can begin today as we experience Jesus among us.

Today and throughout this week pray to see and hear what God’s vision is for you and for this congregation. Pray that the Holy Spirit will open your heart to dream again, to hope again, and to believe in the possibilities again. Jesus said, “you will do greater things than these.” Believe these words of promise filled with the power of Pentecost. It’s here. May the love of Christ live in your hearts. May the winds of hope blow through you. May the fire of faith burn brightly. Come Holy Spirit! Amen.

One of Those Days

Sunday – May 8, 2016
Christ Lutheran Church – Manchester, PA
John 17;20-25

 

Did you ever have one of those days? You know, the ones where it seems no matter what you do everything seems to be going all wrong. It might have started out bad by waking up late, or feeling sick, or worse the cat or dog is sick and you step in it, and then your car breaks down, and you receive bad news, and then you forget your lunch, and you receive more bad news, and it just keeps going. The day goes so bad that you just can’t wait until it’s over. And you hope that the next day will be better. It was just one of those days.

Or have you ever tried to help someone and instead of receiving a word of thanks things got a lot worse for you? Maybe you tried to do something nice for someone and they thought you had an ulterior motive. You didn’t, but for whatever reason they didn’t believe you. Or you might have tried to stop an argument and instead the person or persons got mad at you and they told you to mind your own business. You were just trying to help, but it seemed you only made matters worse. It was one of those days.

That was the case for Paul and Silas in our first reading today from the book of Acts. It starts off where Paul and Silas were heading off to go to a place a prayer when they meet a girl who is a slave. And she is possessed by some kind of bad spirit. So Paul and Silas call on the name of Jesus and the bad spirit leaves her. But instead of being grateful, her owners are angry because now that the girl is freed from that spirit, they can no longer use her to make money. In fact, they are so angry that they have Paul and Silas arrested and put in jail. That was not what Paul and Silas had expected. It was one of those days.

We’re not unique in having those kind of days. They’ve happened in the past and they will continue to happen. The question is what do we do when we’re having those kind of days, the kind of days when no matter how hard you try things just go from bad to worse? There’s a multitude of possibilities. Some people just get angry and fight back. Or they push people away and let these kind of days harden their hearts. When you get a lot of these days that turn into weeks and months, your perspective can turn from hope to despair or depression and hopelessness. You start to become synical and wonder what the point is any longer. You may ask yourself, “Why even try? It’s not going to get any better.” You might not even know how to pray any longer.

But that’s just where we have to stop and pause and realize that’s exactly what we need to do when we’re in that kind of a situation. Yet it’s easy to say that prayer isn’t working when we don’t see results right away. The problem is that we have forgotten how to pray like Jesus taught us. We pray to get things, to have things work out the way we want them to. We expect certain results and certain answers and we have a specific time-frame in mind. And if time goes by and our prayer isn’t answered we are tempted to feel that God isn’t listening, or worse yet that God has no intention of doing anything about it. We’ve forgotten how to pray like Jesus.

In our gospel reading today, the writer John takes us back to the night before Jesus was about to be betrayed, handed over to the authorities, and eventually persecuted and then killed. The human side of him certainly did not want to suffer and die. No one wants to feel pain. Yet, instead of Jesus praying for things to go differently, he prays to his Father – our Father – for his disiciples. Jesus is about to face the most horrible of days and yet he prays for those who believe in him and therefore Almighty God. And the amazing thing is he is not just praying for the disciples that were with him at that time. He prayed for “those who will believe in me through their word.” And that means all the people that came to believe in Jesus because of the witness of the disciples all the way through history. That means you and I as well. Thousands of years ago, when Jesus was facing the worst, he was praying for us today. If that doesn’t make you feel both humbled and filled with gratitude I don’t know what will.

We are where we are today because countless people throughout our lives have prayed for us – our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, Sunday School teachers, pastors, strangers, grandparents, great grandparents all the way back generation after generation as far back as Jesus. And Jesus’ prayer is one of unity. He prayed and continues to pray that we will all be one with each other and one with him and one with God. Because unity with God is the most incredible gift of all. That’s why Jesus suffered, died, and rose again- so that we would all be one through him. He doesn’t want anyone to be left out.

When Paul and Silas healed the slave girl of the spirit that possessed her, it was the power of Jesus that healed her and set her free. When Paul and Silas were thrown in jail, it was the power of Jesus that opened up the prison cell and set them free. When the jailer believed because of Paul and Silas’ prayers and actions, it was the power of Jesus that saved him and his family when they were baptized. It is always the power of Jesus that saves and turns our lives around. It is that power that we can rely on when we turn to God in prayer knowing not how things will work out, but knowing that God will work to bring about God’s glory at the right time.

Faced with struggles and challenges in our lives, we need to pray like Jesus taught us. That is what Paul and Silas did and the foundation of the prison cells were shaken with the power of that prayer. They didn’t pray to have the doors opened, they simple prayed and praised God. In fact, after they were inprisoned, they began to sing, which is praying put to music. And that was a witness to the others in prison. We are called to witness in the same way.

Today we celebrate the seventh Sunday of Easter. We celebrate that Jesus has risen from the dead. That in itself, is reason to sing and pray to God in gratitude for that amazing gift that has saved us. Nothing in this world can ever truly defeat us since we have the promise of Jesus with us forever. When Jesus prayed for unity, he prayed for the unity of all people that will come about as a result of the witness of we who are Jesus followers. When we are faced with troubles, and we have faith and know that God will work in the midst of them, and we pray and sing confidently knowing God will act, that is a witness to others. They will see our faith in the middle of our trials just like Paul and Silas, just like Jesus, and they will come to believe in God too and then we will all be one in Christ.

This week as we encounter those days, let prayer and singing be our first response. It’s time to lift our voices in praise and thanksgiving for the gift of Jesus’ resurrection. This week pray without ceasing. Pray for each other, pray for the church, pray for our congregation, and pray that God will open your heart to be the answer to the prayers of others including Jesus. He prayed that we would all be one. It starts with each one of us. One prayer, one word, one note lifted in song can change the world. It starts with each one of us. Today is one of those days. Today is the day to lift our voices in gratitude for Jesus Christ,  our risen Savior, who endured one of those days on Good Friday so that we who believe would share in the joy of his resurrection. He is always with us, will always love us, and will always be praying with and for us. That’s Jesus’ promise we can hold on to and rejoice in always. Amen.

Jesus and the Parakeet

Sunday – May 1, 2016
Christ Lutheran Church – Manchester, PA
John 14:23-29

 

(This sermon was done as a children’s story with pictures “read” to the congregation on Slipper Sunday.)

One day in a very small town called Bethlehem, a little baby was born. He was the best baby ever born. He was a gift from God. In fact, he was God’s Son. And his name was Jesus. He grew up to be really, really good and he never did anything bad. Jesus always prayed and he always listened to God.

When Jesus grew up he started teaching everyone about God because he knew God. Jesus asked twelve people to stay with him all the time so he could teach them everything he knew about God. They said yes, and followed Jesus everywhere. They were called the first disciples. As time passed, many other people followed Jesus too.

The longer the disciples stayed with Jesus, the more they changed in a good way. Sometimes though, things happened that made them sad like they got sick, or they got hurt, or someone made fun of them, or their pets died, but Jesus was always with them. And because Jesus was with them – even when bad or sad things happened – they had joy in their hearts. When they were around Jesus they felt relaxed and comfortable like a comfy pair of slippers and they had fun with Jesus, and sang, and jumped for joy.

But one day Jesus told his disciples he couldn’t always be with them and they were very sad. They wanted Jesus to stay with them forever. When Jesus told them he had to go away they cried. But Jesus said, “Wait, don’t be scared. Don’t be afraid. I’m going to send you a helper, someone special who is going to be with you all the time when I’m gone.”

Jesus, friends said, “No, no, no! We want you to stay with us. We don’t want you to go away. And we don’t want to meet anyone new.” Jesus said, “Trust me. Don’t be afraid because I’m going to be with God, my Father, but I’m going to send the Paraclete to stay with you.”

One of Jesus friends, named Phil said, “ A parakeet! You are going to send a parakeet to come and live with us! We love parakeets!” Jesus said, “No, no, no, not a parakeet; I said the Paraclete!”

Grace said, “Oh, a pair of cleats! I love playing soccer and they will help me play better! I can’t wait to get a new pair of soccer cleats!” Jesus said, “No, no, no, not a new pair of cleats. I’m sending the Paraclete. It’s a nickname for the Holy Spirit who is a special helper who knows everything about me and will help you remember all the things I taught you. And the great thing is that the Holy spirit will always live with you and be your companion or helper.”

“How is the Holy Spirit going to do that?” asked Grace. Jesus asked them all to breath in deeply and they did. “What did you breath in?” he asked them. They said, “Air.” Jesus asked, “Can you see it?” They said, “No.” “Then how do you know it is there?” Jesus asked. They thought about that……

Then Grace shouted out, “Because if the air isn’t there for us to breathe we’d all die!” “Exactly!” Jesus said. “And the Holy Spirit is like the air. The Holy Spirit will make you alive. And just like the air, the Holy Spirit will be with you all the time, whether you can see or feel the Holy Spirit. That’s my gift to you.”

They all jumped and shouted and said, “Thank you Jesus! We’re not afraid anymore. We’ll have fun with the Holy Spirit until you come back again. This makes us happy!” They all started jumping for joy!

Jesus smiled. He loved them so much. “Keep on jumping for joy! And when the Holy Spirit comes you will be able to do amazing things that will make you even more excited! The Holy Spirit will teach you how to pray better, and help each other better, and love better. So relax, have fun, because the Holy Spirit will always be with you.”

Jesus friends said, “That’s the best gift ever!” Grace said, “That’s even better than a pair of cleats!” And Phil said, “That’s even better than a parakeet!” They all laughed, even Jesus. “It sure is!” said Jesus. “It sure is!” The End.