The First Lesson
During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.
We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days. On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there. A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home." And she prevailed upon us.
Jesus said to Judas (not Iscariot), "Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.
"I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, `I am going away, and I am coming to you.' If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe."
A couple of weeks ago was Shepherd Sunday. Last Sunday I would have to call Love Sunday and this Sunday I would like to call Peace Sunday, maybe peace and love Sunday.
Before I get into the gospel reading I would like to say a few things about Acts and Lydia. She was probably a wealthy woman and a woman of faith. She lived in an area that would be Turkey today and many believe she was the first European convert to Christianity. If I was to make a list of people I wanted to meet, she would be on that list. Because she was a woman of means she probably was taking some risk in asking Paul and company to stay with her. Hers would be an interesting story about what was happening in the first century.
In the reading from John, Jesus talks first about his love and His Father's love for man. The early christians used the word agape. It is a higher form of love. A loose translation is 'God's love for man and man's love for God'. He says, “Those who love me will keep my word and the Father will love them.”
How do we keep God's word? At the time Jesus said this he had been on his mission for several years. He had shared with his followers God's message, the Father's word. This isn't a rhetorical question, In the real world what does God's word look like. Share with me what you perceive as God's word.
One of the last things Jesus says in this passage from John is that Jesus gives us peace. He says,”Peace I give you. My peace I give to you. It is a peace that the world cannot give.” Peace and love, isn't that what we are all looking for. I know I am. Peace and love are both feelings. Because of that they are both hard to describe. And, love is a word that gets used in a lot of ways. Some I don't understand. In one commercial they say, “Love, it's what makes a Subaru a Subaru.” We own a Subaru and yet I am not sure what they are saying. So I suppose another car owner could say, “Love, its what makes a Ford a Ford.”
So, my next question is what do peace and love look like in this world?
You know, when I think of them I believe it requires that we give up something. We give up thinking we are always in control. We can say God my life is in your hands and I give all that I am to you. At that moment God's presence, his love and peace, comes into your life and God will make a home in you.