Happy Mother’s Day! May the Lord bless your home and the places of your work with His grace and blessing. I hope that today will be a day of blessing for all mothers, and God’s special grace and comfort will be with those who have parted with their mother on earth.
May is known as ‘Family Month’ in South Korea. It is a special month filled with many different family-related celebration days. There are Children’s Day, Parents’ Day, Coming-of-Age Day, Teacher’s Day, and Married Couple’s Day! Children’s Day in South Korea which was first celebrated in 1923 by Bang Jeong-hwan, a children’s rights activist, is an important public holiday. On this day, parents usually take their children out to amusement parks or other fun places, provide the best food, and buy gifts. Three days after Children’s Day, on May 8th, is Parent’s Day. However, this day is not a national holiday. Traditionally, children give their parents flowers or gifts on Parent’s Day. On teacher’s day, students give their teachers flowers and cards of gratitude. Coming-of-Age Day is the date to congratulate nineteen-year-olds who have just become adults.
We are all God’s children, spiritual friends, spiritual teachers, a lovely church family, and a growing community. God loves us just the way we are. As an extended family and a lovely church family, may we love one another just the way we are. I hope the rest of May can be a more beautiful and warmer family month for all church family members.
In Psalm 66, a true worshiper comes to God in humility and offers praise to his name. God should be praised by his people for what he had done in the past as well as for what he was doing in the present. The psalmist praised God, “Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me.” God did not withhold his love.
The psalmist declared that God had preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping into the grave. Even in their distress, God was working for their good because he had tested them and refined them like silver. God worked in trials to remove all impurities and refine his people. God worked for their good, even in their suffering. God preserves, purifies, punishes, and protects us for God’s will and our good.
The psalmist offers thanks and praise for God’s deliverance in a time of crisis. The psalmist’s praise was offered from a pure heart, God did not withhold his love. Psalm 66 invites us to join the praise. Believers offer their entire being to God as a living sacrifice while God brings his people to a place of abundance.
In John 14:15–21, Jesus continues farewell speech to his disciples and promises the Holy Spirit. In today’s text, love for Jesus is emphasized. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands.” He not only claims that God’s love is true; he also claims that God’s love is the source of life. This love is both the source of our lives and the goal of our lives.
Jesus continued to say, “the Holy Spirit lives with you and will be in you.” The Spirit is described as “advocate” from the Greek parakletos. It refers to who the Spirit is and what the Spirit does. The Spirit comes as a gift from God and means to encourage, help, or comfort. May we trust the Holy Spirit to be our counsellor and teacher.
The importance of the “advocate” is one who supports and helps us as we seek to love. Such love is revealed through action. Each exercise of love is connected with keeping Jesus’ commandments. Jesus gave his disciples a new commandment in John 13:34: “love one another.” God’s love overflows, but we sometimes miss out His love. Psalm 66:8–10 also reminds us that God’s love remains constant whatever we go through. May we see and feel God’s love all around.
According to a theologian Gromaki, in the Gospel era, the spirit was dwelling “with” the apostles. In Greek the words “with you” mean “beside you.” The Holy Spirit was beside apostles and had a companion ministry. Christ predicted that the Spirit would be in them. After the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, the same Spirit who was beside them would be inside them. There is a difference between “beside and inside”, but Jesus, as promised, is always by our side and in us. He does not only accompany us, but also guides us within us.
In verse 18, Jesus said, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” No orphans in the family of God, no abandoned people with no place to turn. We are never alone and never abandoned. It is promised by Jesus himself. What does Jesus’ coming mean here? Resurrection? Another promise of second coming? The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost? There are many interpretations, but this coming from John 14 refers to the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
Jesus lives in us, and the Spirit comes to us as a gift from God. His indwelling will be endless, and the new Counsellor will be with you forever. The Holy Spirit will be a constant presence of Jesus with all believers.
What keeps us from the love that Jesus preached and taught? Jesus showed us his unconditional love and life-giving love and invites us to love one another, but we sometimes struggle with our own imperfections, biases, and selfish tendencies. So, from time to time, we fail to fully embrace people we need to love in Christ. Fear of rejection and vulnerability can also prevent us from extending love to others. Holding onto bitterness and self-centeredness and divisions can hinder us from experiencing the transformative power of love. In the power of the Holy Spirit, our spiritual connection and growth will deepen our understanding of love and enable us to love one another more. May we strive to be more closely with the love that Jesus exemplified.
God’s abiding presence encourages us to love more. In accordance with Jesus ‘ words, if we love Jesus, may we choose to love in the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promises his presence and the presence of the Spirit to those who keep his commandments to love and serve one another. The love Jesus commands is not just a feeling, but also an action.
What if we were to recognize that Christ is truly present among us when we keep his commandments to love and serve one another? May we look around us in our community, our church community as well as wider communities in which we live and serve and see where Jesus is on the move.
We can live today and face tomorrow and overcome all fears because Jesus lives in us. The Holy Spirit lives actively in us all the time. I believe that God, who is love, will bless and guide all of us on our spiritual journey. May we remember that the indwelling love of God and the enduring presence of the Holy Spirit is with us.
Today the Lord is telling us to love one another, follow my commands, and be my disciples. May our lives be filled with the presence of God’s spirit, and we love and grow as disciples of Risen Christ.
Thanks be to God! Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)