"From the Pulpit" - reflections on the weekly texts, from Pastor Greg at Living Lord Lutheran Church Vero Beach, FL
Jesus said to the disciples:]15“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
18“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”
from our gospel for Sunday, May 14th John 14:15-21
Grace, and peace to you, from God our Father, and the LORD Jesus Christ.
First of all, to all mothers, and all who serve in that capacity, thank you, and Happy Mother's Day. Today, I remember my own mom, Mary Lena Shreaves, who was one amazing woman. Thank you, mom!
Think of the many ways you might describe a love of a mother for her children:
fierce; unrelenting; unconditional; selfish; tender; sacrificial; unwavering. Can you add more here? I'd love to hear how you might describe the love of a mother. I believe that if you have felt this kind of love between mother and child, you in some way have known the love of God for you. It's all of the above, and more, in ways I can't even describe.
But did you ever think of a mother's love as being one of an "Advocate"? Think on that for a minute. An advocate. Someone who advocates on your behalf. Someone who speaks for you when you can't for whatever reason. Someone who will defend you when no one else will. Someone who will plead your case if need be.
Jesus talks in the lesson above for this Sunday about sending another Advocate (notice his use of the word "another" here, implying that he, too, was, is, will be, and advocate for his disciples and more.) And that "other" Advocate is the Holy Spirit, who, Jesus says, will be with us forever.
My message for this Sunday will be about a person who was my advocate in my life and my ministry at the last congregation I served, in Reading, PA, and what I think about it, how it impacted my life, and more. It's a powerful story. I'll be willing to be that you have had an advocate in your life, or you yourself have served as an advocate for someone else - a family member, a friend or co-worker. Think about what that bond between the two of you was like, and (maybe) how much the other person appreciated your "advocacy" in their life.
But, I want to consider today, Advocacy, from a little different perspective. Did you know that your church, the ELCA (www.elca.org) is active in Advocacy in so many areas of our lives, both here at home, and around the world? In fact, the Lutheran church, in all its denominations (ELCA, Missouri Synod, international Lutheran organizations,, etc.), is the largest non-governmental social service agency in the world. That's right. Think about that, and what that means. Your church is committed to advocating on your behalf, and that of those who don't have a voice in the world.
We often say, "Where does my weekly offering go?" The ELCA has what is called the "three expressions of our faith". And those are 1.) the local congregation, 2.) the Synod (local jurisdictions like ours, the Florida/Bahamas Synod and the other 64 synods in the ELCA; and 3.) churchwide - the wider church in America. Our weekly offering goes to support local, national, and international ministries of our wider church. It "advocates", if you will, for things like decent and liveable wages for all; affordable housing; migration issues (not so much politically, but just ensuring that those entering our borders have adequate housing, etc.); women's rights, and so much more.
I've included below a page from the ELCA website on Advocacy, showing you some of the many areas of its work. Again, click on the link I've provided below to find more information on the church's advocacy work.