Memorial Day:Pentecost::Law:Gospel

Text: John 15:26-17, John 16:4-15
Full Draft of Sermon

Poor Pentecost, it is one of the three High Holy Days of the Church Year (Christmas, Easter and Pentecost), and yet it is the one that often gets forced to share its celebration with a secular holiday. A couple of years ago it was Mother’s Day. This year Memorial Day. In a odd way though that might be appropriate. The Spirit doesn’t call attention to himself. The other thought is that its really hard to make a materialist celebration out of the Spirit.

Putting those thoughts aside, the juxtaposition of Memorial Day and Pentecost makes for some tough but I hope enlightening comparisons. The driving force of memorial day is to hallow something, to make it holy. The graves of soldiers who died fighting the nation’s ware we have a good and natural desire to make holy. The problem is that our efforts still are over the dead. Even the most powerful and permanent of our memorials have limits. These too will pass. But Pentecost, the work of the Spirit, is not to make dead tributes but living stones. It is the work of the Spirit that sanctifies our efforts, gives them life and turns them to the glorification of Christ who released us from our dead stone.

Sermon – Memorial Day – Two Kingdoms

Full Text

This is a sermon that I am probably too proud of. I have the feeling that is was a pastor’s sermon – that I was communicating with myself, but not too many others. But even with that, I still like it and here is why – it offers something for the head, the heart and the hands. It presented a common emotional question and answered it in both intellectual terms and emotional terms. It also managed to address a secular event and bring in a Christian framework. I think and feel that it was solid and balanced.

The theology was the two kingdoms. Jesus prays in the text for the Sermon (John 17:11-19) for his disciples “not to be taken from the world, but to be protected from the evil one.” The are not of the world, but they are sent to the world. Combined with the secular calendar Memorial Day and the Christian calendar Ascension Day, the question is why? Why if Jesus Christ is enthroned at the right hand of the Father do we still have days like Memorial Day? The temptation is always to theodicy, or explaining the ways of God to men. God is a big boy, he can explain himself. But he does explain how he works in this world most of the time – through us. In the Kingdom of Power or of the left, God works through means. What that mean is that the crooked timber of humanity provides the material of the Kingdom of Power. And that often results in evil as we go our own way. What we are assured of though is that the Kingdom of Grace, which is the Kingdom that Christians are citizens of, is only under God’s control and action. In Jesus Christ, God has done everything necessary for our salvation. So, we as Christians are in the Kingdom of Power, but we are not of it. We have a mission in it to proclaim the Kingdom of Grace – your sins have been forgiven in Jesus Christ.

The emotion is the just as we cause wars in the that kingdom of power, such as the carnage of the civil war, and carry their effects, so also did Jesus Christ. Jesus submitted to our justice, to the authority of the Kingdom of Power. God does not answer the why question, but he does ask us to have faith in him that He is in control and looking out for his Children. His deeds speak to why we should have that faith.