Rogation Sunday

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James 1: 22-27 – John 16: 23-33

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world”

The tendency of the human heart, generally speaking, is to avoid pain, hardship, or sorrow, to not move on from the childish things, not to limit ourselves. We all like easy things; things that would not create trouble or bring storms over our lives.

Last Sunday after services I was driving to go deliver communion to one of our parishioners. I laughed very loud over what I saw: this lady probably in her early 30s, sucking her thumb. I couldn’t stand it! I looked at her and said to myself “this is so sad”! Here is a thirty year old sucking her thumb! Those of you who have children or grand’ children who can not be able to give up their pacifier know what I am talking about. It is difficult when a person can’t give up those things and move to another stage in life!

Even in church environment we use Christian faith as a way of telling people “do you want your life to be easier? Do want to get rid of all the hassles, the turmoil and all those things that are difficult in your life and have a wonderful and free life?” That’s how people present the church, and they think that’s what Christianity is all about! Beloved it is NOT true! “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). That’s the promise of Jesus to his followers. He promised that they will have trouble, they will face storms. But “take heart, I have overcome the world”. We remember that Jesus gave this speech as he was on his way to the garden of Gethsemane to signify that growth happens in our personal life and in our spiritual life through transformation not substitution. That’s why when Jesus was talking to his disciples he used the illustration of a woman who was in a pain of child birth. What Jesus is saying is that this woman must go through a pain in order to enjoy the birth of a child. In another discussion he said that “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit (John 12: 24).

The point that Jesus is making here is that as believers we came through grief.

There is an hesitation on our part to admit that some of our most significant growths have come through pain and struggle. That’s life with ups and downs…pain and joy, struggle and happiness.

In our Epistle today, James urges us not to only listen to the word of God but to do what it says. To do what the word says, you will face trials; you will go through storms in life, in your marriage, in your family, at your workplace and anywhere that you go.

Is everything going well in your life? Are you having a cool and smooth time in your relationships? If your answer is yes, know that you are just a listener of the word, you are not doing what it says. When you look at yourself and you realize that you have never faced a storm in your life…I am talking about storm that is a consequence of your faith, the storm that the early believers had to face, the storm that many believers are still struggling with today…If you have not gone through that yet, you need to check very well your relationship with the Lord. Christianity is not just to follow rules or regulations. It is a question of relationship. If you truly have and cultivate that relationship with Jesus you will go through what he went through. Do that self-examination and that will bring changes into your life.

“Seek first the Kingdom of heaven and its righteousness” says Jesus. This means make that choice, go through that narrow gate, take up that cross and get on the road. People will hate you because of the righteousness of God working in you. People will dislike you because you are so humble. They will say all kinds of bad things about you because you are so meek. They will persecute you because you are so real and you tell the truth. Remember the words of Jesus how he said: “’No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecute me, they will persecute you also”. But it is encouraging to listen to the word of God from the book of Isaiah “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon you. For I am the Lord your God” (Isaiah 43: 2-3).

Beloved in Christ, keep on doing what you are doing. Keep up the good spirit. Seek first the kingdom and every else will be added onto you. You will become productive; you will become successful; you will win the crown of glory. Remember, Jesus has overcome the world. Amen!