06162019 Trinity Sunday Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

"We have the presence of God!"

06162019 Trinity Sunday Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

June 16, 2019
“We have the presence of God! Acts 2:28”
Sermon Audio

John James entered the hospital because he had a horrible accident and fall at work.  The surgery to repair all of his injuries took nearly 15 hours and it was truly a miracle that he was alive according to the surgeon.  When John had regained consciousness and been told what had occurred at first he was thankful to be alive, then as the days in the Intensive Care Unit turned into weeks, his optimism had turned to bitterness.  He couldn’t sit up, he couldn’t feed himself and he wasn’t allowed to get out of bed. He had no family and no one to care for him. Finally the day came where he was being moved from the ICU to a regular room.  This clearly was a move in the right direction, even if it wasn’t home yet.

Though John couldn’t move on his own, because of his injuries and the surgery, he at least wanted to have a room with a view, so he could watch the seasons unfold as he recuperated.  But when he was moved, to his dismay he was placed door side in a room with another man in the hospital for what he anticipated would be a long stay for his recovery.

When John arrived, he offered a polite, but guarded ‘hello’ and made simple conversation.  Because there was a ‘divider’ between them for privacy, John didn’t know what his roommate looked like, what he was in for and only heard the gentle voice of the man who would be his roommate for the foreseeable future.  His roommate’s name was Luke, a good biblical name, in fact one of the writers of the Gospel.

As the first day came to an end, John asked Luke to describe the view out of the window because he loved the outdoors and missed the grass between his toes.  Luke began to describe in intimate detail the park that was across the street from the hospital. He told of the families that were playing on the playground and the joy they appeared to have that Luke and John were only able to see, but not personally experience.  Luke told of the hill on the front lawn of the hospital and in the distance the colorful trees and crystal waters that were sparkling with the setting sun. John hung on every word Luke spoke longing to see it for himself.

Since this was a hospital that was in the city and not his small hometown, John thought the grounds and the surrounding countryside were beautiful from Luke’s description.  John could tell that the window faced West and longed to see the change of the seasons since he had spent most of his life outdoors, drinking in the beauty of God’s creation.  As the night progressed, John began to have a different feeling. John became jealous of his roommate, because the scene he described would have been his, if he had the ‘window view’ like Luke did as a patient in the hospital.

The night turned into day and began to blur with every passing sunset and sunrise.  Luke and John continued to converse and talk of their favorite sports teams and their younger years.  Unable to see his roommate, but not wanting to scare him with all of the contraptions of traction, John was thankful to be able to ask Luke what was happening outside.  John lived on every word of the images that Luke painted for him of the outside. John was living vicariously through him, but that feeling of jealousy he felt that first night was growing inside of him day by day.  John was jealous of Luke and the seed of jealousy grew. John knew it wasn’t right, but he couldn’t help it. As soothing as the description by Luke of the changes taking place outside, John still appreciated the mere presence of his roommate.

Suddenly, one night a few weeks after his arrival, John heard Luke begin to cough and choke.  John wasn’t able to do anything, because he was still in traction. The staff jumped into action when the monitors began to show a crisis.  John could hear them courageously working to save his roommate's life. Seconds cascaded into minutes and finally the heart rate monitor that beeped with every beat of Luke’s heart began to drone with a monotone pitch without the usual and persistent blip that John’s resonated with each time his heart beat.  

As the staff retreated and the darkness and realization of what had occurred overcame John, it was clear his roommate was no longer among the living.  John at first was saddened by this loss. He liked Luke because Luke’s presence was the connection he needed with the ‘outside world’. John overheard the staff as they questioned one another who the next of kin were for Luke.  And one of the staff flipping through the thick chart stated that Luke had no family and his remains were to be donated to the medical school on the other side of the city.

When Luke’s remains had been removed and his side of the room was cleaned by the staff, the orderly asked John if he would like to be moved to the window side.  With a tinge of guilt for his feelings of jealousy for the window side of the room of his former roommate, John responded that yes, he would like to be moved. As the orderly pulled the curtain back in order to simply move his bed next to the window.  John received his first view of the outside that had been so intimately described and detailed by what Luke saw outside of the window as described to John for many weeks.

Because he couldn’t sit up, he thought he may be unable to see outside.  As he was moved closer John noticed the blinds had not been opened because it had been night.  So he asked if the orderly could open the blinds. John at least wanted to see the stars and prepare for the suns rays when they would reach his window.  What he saw took his breath away. What John saw revealed in that one moment a reality he was not expecting. When Luke by his presence had described the trees in infinite detail and a landscape of colors and joy, John now saw, not the landscape that had brought him hope when Luke was present with him, but only a brick wall that was dirty and dingy and blocked the entire view of the window even to not being able to see any stars.

When the orderly saw John’s face in the dimness of the early morning light, he asked what was wrong?  In utter disbelief John described in detail the picture that Luke had described to him so many days and that had given him hope.  The orderly listened and then told John that his roommate had in fact been in the hospital for a long time and had many roommates, but that Luke had been put in the hospital, because he was sick with cancer, but also because he was legally blind.

Clearly Luke’s presence for John offered him the greatest comfort.  What Luke’s presence also did was not deceitful, but was what Luke ‘saw’ and believed and John in faith believed Luke and was inspired and comforted by his presence and the view he described.

Today we find ourselves here at church in desperate need of the love and comfort of our God.  Today we join all liturgical churches across the world confessing the Athanasian Creed. Used only once a year, it is a Creed that like Luke describing what he could not see paints for us today a clear picture of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit that the early Church and their faith and belief in how the Trinity is in relationship between, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The disciples from our Epistle lesson today, who heard Peter’s sermon after the giving of the Holy Spirit realized that by, through and in the gift of the Holy Spirit, they now had been given from God a presence that would not depart from them. With the gift of the Holy Spirit, to them the disciples by the gift of the Holy Spirit were inspired to proclaim to all those with them, “We have the presence of God!”  And we who gather here today have this same gift given unto us today “We have the presence of God!”.

We have heard the Gospel of our Salvation from Jesus Himself that He is the Son of the Father, begotten  and not made. Jesus finds glory in doing the will of His Father in heaven and God the Son’s presence offered unto us and all of mankind the greatest gift of grace on the Cross of Calvary and His sacrifice.  For when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples, this gift of grace clearly articulated for the disciples the truth we hear today that, “We have the presence of God!”

We who gather today have only to answer these two questions, will we believe what we confess in the Athanasian Creed, or will we pull back the blinds placed over our eyes by our culture and world and see a dingy brick wall?  Or will we confess and believe in faith that we have the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation through Jesus Christ and His love for us and all of mankind, because of the truth we have in the Athanasian Creed? The truth we can in faith believe is that the Athanasian Creed we confess today is our confession and belief like John did of Luke of a profound truth today.  We have Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity, because today “We have the presence of God” Father, Son and Holy Spirit!  AMEN.