The Legend of Gabriel and Jesus

Date: Easter 7a – 2011

Context: St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Asheville NC

Sermon Text: John 17:1-11

Grace and Peace to you from God our Father in heaven and out risen Lord Jesus Christ.

An ancient legend… tells of Jesus’ ascension into heaven.  Jesus is met… by the angel Gabriel… who asks… now that your work is finished… what plans have you made… to insure that the truth… you brought to earth… will spread throughout the world?

Jesus answered… I called some fishermen… a tax-collector… and a few women… to walk along with me… as I did my Father’s will.

Yes… I know about them… said Gabriel… but what other plans have you made?

Jesus replied… I taught Peter… James… and John… about the kingdom of God. I taught Thomas and Philip… about faith.   And all of them… were with me… as I healed and taught.

Gabriel began to lose patience.  Now all this is well and good… but surely you must have other plans, like a plan B or something… to make sure your work… was not in vain.  Jesus… with a steady gaze on Gabriel… said… I have no other plans.  I am depending on them.

And so… our gospel for today begins… Jesus is depending on the disciples… depending on them to spread his message… of love… mercy… and compassion… and to make the Father’s name known… to the whole world.

Jesus was depending on the disciples… but he would not leave them stranded.  He promised them a helper… an advocate… one who would come in power… to remind and teach them and to give them strength and courage… to spread his message.

The disciples knew all of this.  But… when you read through Matthew… Mark… Luke… and John… you see… sometimes… even though they knew… what Jesus was saying… even though they saw Jesus with their own eyes… they didn’t really get it.  Maybe… that’s why in the legend of Gabriel and Jesus… Gabriel is so concerned… Jesus doesn’t have a back up plan.

Regardless of the legend… regardless of what the disciples knew… or didn’t know… we do know this… the disciples had to wait… from the day of Ascension… which was this past Thursday… until Pentecost… which is next Sunday… for the Holy Spirit to come to them… to help them fulfill the mission… Jesus had given them.

In this time of waiting… I would guess… the disciples felt confused and concerned. They probably wondered… what was going to happen next.  They had seen so much… that defied logical explanation… and now they were … without their friend… their teacher… their master.

At the same time… they knew… glorious… life changing… joyous times with Jesus.   They had seen… with their own eyes… signs… healings… and heard incredible words of love… during Jesus’ time… with them.  They had seen… Jesus… ascending… to be with his Father.  They knew… through Jesus’ teaching and actions… Jesus was the son of God… and that Jesus and the Father were one… and there was another promise… of someone… something powerful… yet to come.

The disciples… were confused… and joyous… all at the same time.  They were in between. They were in between… with what to think… and how to feel.  They were in between… the time… Jesus was with them… and what was yet to come… the Holy Spirit… but they had a mission.

They were… in between… like many disciples… here today. I’m a recent graduate of high school or college… I have a mission…. What do I need to do now… I’m in a new job… I have a mission… where do I turn for help.  I’m without a job… I have a mission… what should I do.  I just lost a loved one in my life… I have a mission… I feel pretty much alone here.  I’m expecting a new child… I have a mission… what’s it going to be like. I’ve been baptized… I have a mission… yet I know… that one day… unknown to me… I’m going to die.  We… too… are in between.

Listen to the words that Jesus prays… Holy Father… protect them… in your name… that you have given me… so that they may be one… as we are one.

Jesus prays to his Father in heaven… keep the disciples… in your care and keeping… in your way… as one… during the… in between.

He prays… to comfort the disciples… who are confused… and joyous… all at the same time.  It would have been so easy… for the disciples… to say… well… it was good while it lasted… but… there’s no one here… to guide us into… the what’s next… so let’s go back… to the what was… lets go back to what we know.

I know what that feels like.  Life throws us curve balls… all the time… and we don’t know what’s coming next… so we ponder… let’s get out of… the in between… and go back… to what we know.  The in between time… is when I need… to hear Jesus’ prayer… Father… keep him in your care and keeping… keep him in your way… keep him as one… as part of the body of Christ… in the… in between time.

Through Jesus’ life and teachings… we know… we belong to the Father.  We know… we are washed clean in the waters of baptism… and named… beloved children of God.  We know… that each of us… are called by God into mission… for us to carry out… in our own unique and individual way.

Through Jesus’ prayer… we know… as we journey through… in between… the what was… and the what is yet to comewe are not alone.  Last week, we are reminded that our very breath we breathe is, the breath of God, the spirit of the Lord… is there to remind us of the Gods presence all around us… The Father, our Father in Heaven… is always protecting us… always guiding us… and gives us himself… and each other… for the journey.

Knowing Jesus prays… for each of you…when you are… in between… the what was… and what is yet to come…

  • Live in peace, the true and only peace that comes from Christ.

  • Live in hope, the hope of the resurrection, that one day we will all be joined to Christ with all the saints.

  • Live in joy, the everlasting joy knowing that we have eternal life with God.

Because united with Christ… in bread and wine… in water and word… in community and prayer… the Father… is present always… surrounding us… with all that we need… for our mission… of sharing… the love… the mercy… the compassion… the joy… we know… through Jesus.

Thanks be to God who is always with us, guiding, carrying, and challenging us with an endless and unfailing love.

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