Abiding in Joy

1 John 5:1-6; John 15:9-17

Sermon Abiding in Joy

Good morning! Sometimes, when I get into this pulpit, I feel like I’m repeating myself. I suppose all pastors have some messages that they revisit from time to time. Here are some of the kinds of things I say frequently:

· Be the Church.

· Get outside of our walls and be the Church.

· Try new things.

· Deepen your relationships with one another.

· Grow new relationships with people outside of this congregation.

· Get outside of your comfort zone.

· Change.

I frequently look at my old sermons and sometimes I’m a little surprised at how often some of those themes occur. Then again, my first two pastorates were interim pastorates, so messages about change kinda go with the territory.

You would think that might be different, now that I’m serving as your installed Pastor—there’s nothing interim or temporary about our relationship. But the truth is, the world of ministry is in a constant state of flux; there is change all around us. We’re subject to the larger forces in our society, including the decline in attendance and membership in all churches. Still, sometimes I wonder if you folks are getting bored with me, if I’m repeating myself too often.

Jesus also repeats himself.

And no, I’m not comparing myself to Jesus.

Our Gospel lesson this morning comes from a section of John’s Gospel that scholars call the Farewell Discourse. This is Jesus giving his final instructions to the disciples. These are really important instructions. How do we know this? Jesus has already given these instructions. We know they’re important because Jesus is repeating himself.

In Chapter 13, Jesus washes the disciples’ feet and tells them, “I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you” (13:15). This is echoed in this morning’s reading when Jesus tells the disciples: “I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last,” (15:16).