Tag Archive | salvation

We, Too, WILL Be Lifted Up

John 12:20-33

O Lord Jesus, You chose the Cross as the path to glory to show us the way of salvation. May we receive the word of the Gospel joyfully and live by Your example as heirs and citizens of Your Kingdom. Amen.

We just heard in the Gospel reading that a group of Greeks approached Philip and Andrew, saying

“Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” (John 12:21)

At this time in history, Greeks were considered ‘gentiles’ – outcasts, non-religious, non-Jews, and aliens. Up to this time, the ministry of Jesus and His disciples had not included the gentiles – only those of Jewish faith. So, these Greeks, to have come to Jerusalem during the Feast of the Passover, was an unusual occurrence – and even more unusual was that they asked to see Jesus, for they had heard of Him. Why were they even interested in meeting this controversial Jewish man?

In His usual welcoming manner, Jesus instructed Philip and Andrew to bring the Greeks to him. Now, this was yet another instance where Jesus violated the societal laws – He was often speaking with non-Jews, or heathens. Jesus was always breaking all the rules. We hear nothing about these Greeks once they are taken to Jesus, but they serve as a segue to Jesus’ teachings about the inclusion of ALL in his Kingdom.

In Matthew 10:32-33, we are told:

“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.”

This is just another example of John making it very clear that Jesus drew all kinds of people to Him, and to God.

I believe that all of us sitting here today, are a little like those Greeks, – we are searching for Jesus. We search in our own personal studies, by coming to church, through meditations and prayer, either alone or with other people. We yearn our whole lives to get to know Jesus better. We strive to understand who He had to suffer for, even though we are told that He is the Son of God, that God sent Him to save His creation.

Why the suffering?

Why the struggles?

Why the meanness?

Why the betrayal?

I grew up in the Catholic Church and I can remember as a young child, looking at the crucifix hanging over the altar with the broken, bloody body of Jesus on it, wondering what horrible things I must have done to cause Jesus to be murdered for my sins. I never could wrap my little mind around that, but I took comfort in knowing that through His death, I was forgiven of all my sins and when I died, by the promise of Jesus:

“when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32).

I didn’t understand it, but I believed, somehow, it was true, and it gave me comfort.

We also heard in Jeremiah that God

will make a new covenant with the people (Jeremiah 31:31)


No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, (Jeremiah 31:34)

This is the promise of the Judeo-Christian covenant: that we will always be children of God, never to be forgotten. And we will take our rightful place with Jesus for eternity.

As I have grown older, I find I am more and more drawn to Jesus, the Son of Man – that Jesus became, in a short time, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, by all who knew Him or followed Him – someone in whom many believed that they, too, suffered and died and would not deny Him. But I still associate most with Jesus, the Son of Man – whose one solitary life changed the world forever.

Many of you may know this prose poem by Dr. James Allan Francis, but I cannot read it enough – I want to share it with you.

And in many ways, this ‘One Solitary Life’ has shown us ‘the way’ – and indeed, lifts us up.

For we all must die – and to live knowing we must die is, in many ways, painful. We may not die on a cross – but if you have ever observed a friend suffering from cancer or MS or heart disease – this is a type of crucifixion. If you have lost a loved one to death, a child, a spouse, a parent – this is suffering. If you have known someone encased in despair and depression, mental illness, or dementia – oh, indeed, that is suffering.

In many ways, to live is to suffer – loss, confusion, disappointment, doubt – and despite the love, the joy, the successes and accomplishments, we all suffer – and fear – and hurt. At some point we all are betrayed or abandoned, persecuted or bullied, and we must die.

We are at the end of winter now, and we have been surrounded by death – trees barren, flowers gone, grass mown, days short – all dead,

but look!


Spring is coming!

Easter is coming! Life returns in a beautiful endless cycle of resurrection and renewal.

And this is what Jesus, Son of Man and Son of God – this ‘One Solitary Life’ – came to tell us. I will leave you with this:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3)

Jesus promised:

Always be where I am! And I will be there, too!

Jesus defied death to show us that death is not the final thing we feared! Life goes on and on – Life is eternal – and where He is, so shall we be.

This is how we are lifted up – past sorrow and disappointment, past grief and despair, beyond loss and confusion –

to Life!

To Joy!

To Eternal Love!

This is why we follow the teachings and examples of this ’One Solitary Life’ – to learn to live a life of love, surpassing suffering, so that we may recognize and join the eternal life of Jesus, Son of Man – and Son of God. Without this ‘One Solitary Life’, this earth and all of us would be dark and dismal, indeed – but with Him, secure in the hope and promise of His life, this earth and you and I can be lifted up – each day – and for eternity.

Let us pray:

Dear Jesus, we resolve—and will try this day—to imitate Your example, to be like You. We will redouble our efforts to see Your image in all those we meet and deal with this day, and to be as loving to them as we would be to You. We resolve to avoid all those shortcomings we have and which we now sincerely desire to give up forever. Amen.

Delivered at Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Worthington & Parts Adjacent, Worthington, OH; 18 March 2018

We Are ALL Invited!

Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. ” But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:1-14)

We just heard about a king who held a wedding reception for his son where none of the invited guests showed up.

Can you imagine that? Would you ever skip a wedding reception if invited by your king?

And if you remember, there were some pretty lame excuses why people couldn’t be bothered to attend!

So the king, having found out who TRULY were his friends, sent his servants out to invite anyone they found in the street. These people invited were commoners, slaves, servants and merchants. They were honest and hardworking people, but also, according to the Scripture, bad people, criminals and thieves. Anyone who happened to be on the street was invited to come to this sumptuous feast.

Now, this parable from Jesus is not really about a wedding feast, but a story about the salvation that is available if you follow Jesus. The king represents God, who asks each and every one of us to come into his Kingdom. . . no matter what our station in life, what we have done in the past. The Kingdom of Heaven is not limited to only the ‘good’ people or the Jewish people.

Heaven is open to all of us.

But there are some conditions for entry to the Kingdom of Heaven. The scripture says that there was one man who did not have a wedding robe. But this doesn’t refer to a piece of clothing – that just doesn’t make sense since the king’s servants went out onto the street and hauled in everyone they could find. Obviously, no one was dressed for the wedding.

This ‘robe’ is the ROBE OF SALVATION, which we all get when we give our lives to Jesus. . . when all our sins are forgiven and we are clean and spotless.

In Isaiah 6:10, we are told that when accept Christ, we are

clothed me with the garments of salvation, and He has wrapped with a robe of righteousness.

It is God who clothes us. Nothing that we do can possibly be enough to earn us salvation or righteousness. Only God can cleanse us from iniquity and cause us to be truly blameless, or righteous.

But we have a choice – we can choose to accept Christ and wear the ‘wedding robe’ or we can choose not to. It is solely up to each one of us.

The last line of the scripture (Matthew 22:14) says:

For many are called, but few are chosen.

We all receive the invitation, but not everyone will be chosen. Are you going to be one of the ‘chosen’ ones or will you be thrown into darkness?

It is your choice. . .  what are you going to choose?

Let us pray:

Dear Lord, open our eyes and hearts to the wonders of your salvation through Jesus Christ. Please help us to see that we can throw off the rags of our current life and put on shiny white robe through your salvation. May we live our lives on the path to your Kingdom. Amen.

Delivered to In the Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH; 15 October 2017

And Jesus Said, “I Tell You The Truth”

(John 14:1-14)

Every time Jesus wanted us to listen to what He had to say, He would say

truly I tell you“


verily I say unto you“


I tell you the truth”

All of Jesus’ parables use one of these phrases, as well as many of His teachings. He wants us to ‘get it’ – that what He was saying is important to us and to our salvation.

And Jesus performed all kinds of marvelous deeds: changing water into wine, healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, raising the dead, making the lame walk again, driving out demons, feeding 5000 people with five loaves and two fishes, restoring the ear of the servant that Peter cut off, -things that we don’t see every day – things that people found hard to or couldn’t believe. But Bible tells us that these miracles are true -that Jesus did these things – and reminds us that He also said “I tell you the truth”.

In this day and age, we have a hard time finding someone who will tell us the truth. Events are sensationalized, we hear lots of ‘fake news’ or ‘alternative facts’, and some people just outright lie and expect us to believe them. It is very hard or almost impossible to know what is true anymore.

But there is one person who we can always believe – who speaks the truth to us, no matter what – and that is Jesus. “I tell you the truth” was, in fact, the essence of Jesus’ mission and ministry.

I tell you the truth,” Jesus says in today’s text,

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.” (John 14:1)

He said this to the disciples on the last night He shared a meal with them – the time we call ‘The Last Supper’. Can you think of anything more reassuring? More hopeful? More promising?

In spite of the betrayal by Judas and denial three times by Peter that would come in that evening, and the trial Jesus would be facing, he reassured this band of followers, saying

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.” (John 14:1)

And He says the same thing to us!

We, like those disciples, have our doubts, weak resolve and often wander off the correct path. Jesus told the truth about the cruelty of people to others, the hatred that tears us apart, the shortcomings that bind us together more than any ties of nationalities, ethnicity, or politics ever could. But once again, Jesus reassures us:

In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2)

Jesus’ “I tell you the truth“ revealed more about God, about that love and forgiveness that is offered to us; the ‘truth’ about God’s plan for salvation for each and every one of us. When Jesus told the ‘truth’ about God, it was never quite what we expected.

For those convinced they were righteous and blessed by their piety and goodness, Jesus warned,

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full” (Matthew 6:5).

For those who put their faith in human efforts, in the power of the sword and political might, Jesus announced before the great Temple Herod had completed,

“I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another, everyone will be thrown down” (Matthew 24:2).

For those proud of their rigid oppressive religion, Jesus reminded them that there would be no grown-ups in heaven:

“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

For those who said God could only work in certain ways and through certain people, Jesus told the ‘truth’ about a God who could work



and with whomever

God wants us!

Each and every one of us!

No matter what!

Jesus came to tell the ‘truth’, and this truth both surprises and sets us free – free for God to take us to places that we’ve never been before and couldn’t get to without God.

All we have to do is follow the teachings of Jesus.

Praise be to God!


Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH; 14 May 2017