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The Bones Of The Church

John 15:26-16:15

The Rev. Jon Roberts

20 May


Calvary Episcopal Church

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

26 But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; 27 and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning. 16:1 “I have said all this to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do this because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you of them. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convince[a] the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 12 “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.


The Pentecost Painting, Mark Durham, 2013

There are two great days in a person’s life –
The day they are born and the day they discover why.[1]

There is a lot that can happen between those two points and so often, a person doesn’t make that discovery unless they’ve grown a little old and perhaps a bit tired. That is the beauty of the aging process, to allow a bit of reflection from our weary bones. Through a good deal of weariness, through much trial and error, we may be brought a little closer to Godliness.

Bob Hope once said, “You know you’re getting old when the candles cost more than the cake.” Today, is the birthday of the church, Pentecost, and it is the day we discover why we were born. To understand the purpose of one’s life, we can look no further than to observe the level of influence we have on others. To do this, a team of psychologists decided to conduct a study to see if pets really did imitate the personalities of their masters. They created an experiment where they tested the dogs that belonged to a famous architect, an eminent biologist, and a well-known rock star. The first dog, which belonged to the architect, was placed in a room with one hundred dog bones. To their surprise she arranged the bones to make a perfectly constructed suspension bridge. The doctors knew they were on to something and were anxious to see what the scientist’s dog would do. She amazed them even further by placing the bones in the shape of the double helix of the DNA molecule. The doctors were beside themselves with excitement but before publishing their results they decided to see what the musician's dog would do. To their dismay, he showed up late, ate all the bones, made a pass at the other two dogs and went home early.
We see, even in the church a cycle of life between the time of its birth and the time of its death, episodes where it may reflect the life of an architect, a biologist and even a rock star. Through the course of time, the church has born and built many traditions, such as wearing the color red or reenacting the ‘speaking of tongues’ on the day of Pentecost. We should evaluate such acts.

Red resembles fire, like the flame of God’s Holy Spirit that came down on the disciples in the upper room. Fire, which lights and ignites the fearful hearted, those who are weary and broken. Turn towards the prophet Ezekiel. We find him in a vision, looking over the valley of dried bones. Many generations after the rock star, King David, he has this vision where God shows him something really important for the future of Israel. “Why do you show me this death in your people?” One by one God’s Spirit breathes life into the bones, where flesh comes together and the people rise up.[2] The nation of Israel, God’s temple, the church rose and fall and when we look at the history of it, we get a little weary. Through good news there is hope in things believed yet not seen, and will come, promises God to the faithful. There is a reason why we were born.

Jesus brought this message to the world. He would light the fire inside of his people for generations to come. I love the church. I love that it was born on Pentecost. People, weary, looking around wondering how the church would raise again. Jesus promises to the church that those who believe will be raised up even though at times they also fall down. Because we are human, we grow weary and that is why he sent the Advocate, the Holy Spirit to raise us up again.[3] We go from being an architect, to a biologist to a rock star in our circular evolution. Through Jesus Christ alone, there is fire, there is spirit, there is mercy and there is love. May we remain hopeful that although we may look out into a world, full of people who have no direction, no spiritual fulfillment, truly a valley of dry bones, there is fire and there is an abundance of life. Through Jesus, share this good news, and remind each person that he wants to live in them. Remind them that the two great days in their life will be the day they are born and the day they discover why.

[1] William Barclay
[2] Ezekiel 37:1-14
[3] John 15:26-16:15

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