May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable in your sight – Our strength and our song – Amen
Today, of course, is Mother’s day and as I said last year – the 4th holiest day of the year
Christmas – Good Friday – Easter … and then Mother’s day…
So to all the mothers, and to all that give mothering care – Happy Mother’s Day!
This week, in my sermon preparation I discovered a wonderful sermon delivered by The Rev. Dr. Llyod Ogilivie two years ago, and I am indebted to him for much of this content.
God loves you! He always has and he always will. And right now, he wants to bless you.
So my message today is really a benediction, a “good word,” a blessing especially for you.
When I think of the challenges and opportunities that each of you face, I long to share an inspiring benediction to help you expect and pray for the Lord’s very best for your future.
I feel your hopes and hurts, your problems and challenges because I have my own.
We are one in needing a blessing from our Lord. And here is the essence of his presence in the five dynamic dimensions of how he wants to bless us all.
“May the all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present Lord be with you: may He go before you to show you the way, behind you to protect you, beside you to befriend you, above you to watch over you, and within you to give you peace.”
First of all, the Lord goes before us to show us the way.
We don’t need to be afraid of tomorrow; the Lord is already there.
The prophet Isaiah affirmed this awesome assurance when he declared,
“The Lord will go before you,” (Isaiah 52:12),
You and I can move forward under the Lord’s guidance, expectantly anticipating his direction for our lives.
The Lord knows us better than we know ourselves.
The Psalmist realized this, “O Lord, You have searched me and known me...you understand my thoughts afar off”(Psalm 139: 1-2 ).
The Lord knows what is best for us. His ultimate will is that we should experience his love and accept our status as his loved ones who are destined to live forever.
He also wants us to enjoy an abundant life now, filled with his presence and power, and discover his individualized strategy for each of us.
Listen! The Lord whispers in our souls, “I have plans for you. Trust me. Don’t be afraid of the future. I’m already there!”
Now let’s claim the second part of this blessing.
The Lord also goes behind us to be our rear guard to protect our backs.
Again the prophet Isaiah helps us with a momentous promise:
“The God of Israel will be your rear guard” (Isaiah 52:12).
Often we hear the warning, “Watch your back!”
It is at our backs that the enemies of life attack us by surprise.
I find there are three enemies that sneak up behind us: hurting memories, troublesome people, and the Devil himself.
The Lord keeps at bay the spears of hurting memories when we trust in His faithful protection
Unresolved hurts from the past try to sneak up behind us and attack us with stabbing memories of what we have done that causes us remorse, or what others have done to us that makes us long for retaliation.
Only the Lord, as our rear guard, can provide the healing power behind all the forgiveness of the world,
By our Lord Jesus Christ’s great act of grace, we are all forgiven and therefore have a share in all forgiveness.
Riding us of the sting of painful memories
We also need protection from troublesome people. Our rear guard gives us discernment, wisdom - x-ray vision, in order to be able to see what is causing their desire to undermine us
—sometimes jealousy – competition – envy – anger.
Our Lord holds our enemies at bay until we can receive his strength to love and forgive them in spite of their undermining strategies.
But our rear guard’s most crucial defense is against the insidious influence of Satan, the force of evil in the world.
The Lord has all power. Evil is no match for the power of the mighty name – of Jesus.
He forms a protection between our souls and Satan’s influence. “I am your rear guard. Do not be afraid!” he commands us.
Next, consider the third part of the blessing of the Lord’s presence: he comes beside us, in the very midst of us, in life’s struggles.
He takes us by the hand and reminds us that he will never leave nor forsake us.
Struggles and challenges are the stuff of life for most of us.
Few, if any of us escape them;
we have times of insecurity and self-doubt, times when we lack self-esteem. Anxiety is a stranger to none of us. Fears and frustrations are a part of life
But not all our struggles are internal.
We face difficult situations in our families – at work – and in the community.
Progress is slow; conflict often seems inevitable.
But here’s the good news: the Lord can turn our struggles into stepping stones.
- First, he helps us identify the struggle that is our deepest need.
- Second, he comes to us, is right beside us if we have eyes to see His presence – and blesses us with the opportunity to turn that struggle over to him completely. To leave the results to him.
- Third, the Lord provides us with an opportunity to instead of asking, “Lord, get me out of this!” to dare to ask, “Lord, what do you want me to get out of this?”
- And fourth, when we accept the Lord’s offer to surrender our challenges over to the Lord - He can, and will intervene and provide you with unanticipated strength you never could have imagined.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ – make no mistake: when you least expect it, the Lord will break through with help—perfectly timed, magnificently suited to your needs.
All this is possible because of the next part of the blessing I want you to receive:
May the Lord go above you to watch over you.
Perhaps this is the most familiar image of the Lord’s presence.
As some have called it “Spy in the Sky”
From His perspective He knows the past and the future, and can see what we need in every moment.
With watchful care, He arranges circumstances, deploys people who will be able to help us, He opens doors, and does what might seem impossible to us.
As the great hymn of comfort declares – we are in the palm of his hand
The Lord is faithful
The final phrase of my benediction is, “May the Lord go within you to give you peace.”
Our Lord declares as recorded in John’s gospel and read today
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” (John 13:27a)
God’s peace is total peace encompassing all dimensions of our thought, emotion, will and body, as well as our relationships and our responsibilities for justice.
It is knowing we are loved and forgiven, that we have trusted the Lord with our needs, and have invited Him to take up residence in our minds
To think His thoughts to declare our faith in the creeds and reveal and express His love in our deeds
When we invite the Lord to live in us, we experience the full-power of his peace.
Jesus said, “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” 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. (John 13:23,25,26)
The blessing that we have today from God - before, behind, beside, above and within you
It comes to us via the Holy Spirit
The Advocate or the Helper
We did not live in biblical times – we were not there when God empowered Moses to part the sea
We were not provided with manna from heaven to feed on for 40 years of wandering in the desert
We were not one of the disciples that heard the words of Jesus of Nazareth
We were not one the leapers that were healed or one of the lame that could walk on account of the presence of Jesus
But we are forever more in the presence of God in the form of the Holy Spirit
The advocate walks before us…, behind us…, beside us…, above us… and within us
The Lord is our ‘Helper’ of which there is no greater
With the Holy Spirit helping us through it all we are truly and eternally blessed
And so my sermon today is my best attempt to share with you, to all the mothers and to everyone else
The message that God the Holy Spirit is our Advocate
That God’s omnipresence is our Blessing
Let us pray. Everlasting God, God of Jesus Christ, God of our salvation, we thank you for your Spirit, the Spirit of truth which lives inside our hearts. O God, make your Spirit strong in us. Give us the courage to allow your Spirit to flow through our lives into our experiences so that you might be all that you want to be in the world. In the name of Jesus Christ, we thank you for His life in us. Amen.