These beautiful flowers were a gift to me from my sister, Inara, via the Latvian church in Indianapolis. It was my 60th birthday yesterday so I had the pleasure of friends sending me notices, a grrrrreat meal at Fat Dan’s (order Dirty Tots or just never eat again, your choice), followed by a wonderful afternoon on the porch with Susan, some cats, and a pup. I was even visited by a nap.
Sunday’s English service was just really comfortable. We sang Crown Him With Many Crowns (opening), a Lutheran standard. We sang Beautiful Savior (sermon), another Lutheran standard. We sang What Feast of Love (communion), a favorite of mine. And we recessed with Go, My Children, with My Blessing, a reminder we are loved both in and outside of the brick church. Preparing for the sacrament of Holy Communion we chanted the Holy, holy, holy is The Lord. And as we approached the Communion Table we chanted the O Thou Lamb of God, Who bears the sins of the world, have mercy, have mercy on us.
My sister, Inara, read scripture, Acts 17:22-31 (Paul speaking to the Athenians about ‘an unknown god’) followed by 1 Peter 3:13-22 (always be prepared to speak in gentleness when asked to defend your hope in Christ).
My son, Aleksandrs, read the prayers of intercession and thanksgiving for the church, both local and universal. We prayed for unity among believers; for scientists, photographers, explorers, those who make us aware of the awesome world The Lord gave us; for musicians, artists, poets, scholars, and all who help interpret God’s beauty to us so we may understand Him; for the protection of nations through leaders, civil servants, police, firefighters and first responders; for people who suffer abuse from the hands of the few or the hands of many, for immigrants, those who suffer from the ravages of war and unrest; we asked for blessings upon those who receive holy baptism, being given a life rich in The Lord; and finally those who have died before us who took the name of Christ to us and others so that our evangelism, outreach and pastoral care may remain strong.
Macitajs Lazdinš, at the beginning of service, asked us to pray for the peace of his home country, Venezuela, it being torn apart by political strife.
Macitajs also read the Gospel for the sermon, John 14:15-21 (the spirit of truth).
He began his sermon with the above illustration about the simplicity of great truths. Jesus spoke in the Gospel reading about the simplicity of ‘if you love the Father, you will do His bidding’. He asked if any person might be able to witness your love of God through your behavior. Do your reactions to different people vary according to your familiarity with them? Do you behave differently between a good friend and a stranger who approaches you for help or a handout? It’s natural to feel at ease with a good friend as opposed to a stranger but do you at least give a stranger your ear and your time? Maybe you can help and maybe you can’t but all persons deserve some attention. Macitajs gave two examples of Christians in action. He told the story of two football captains meeting for a coin flip to decide who would receive a kickoff. The visiting captain was allowed to make the call and he said ‘tails’. The referee flipped the coin, it came up ‘heads’ but the referee forgot what the visiting captain chose. He asked him but rather than tell the truth the captain said ‘Heads!’ and was awarded the kickoff return. The captain of the home team was upset and complained to the referee but what hurt worse was the captain who confronted the liar for abandoning his Christian faith. These two players had attended a Christian athletes prayer meeting the evening before. What drove the visiting captain to deny Christ?
The second story was about two farmers, one who had children, but owned dogs who often ran loose, causing trouble. The other farmer raised sheep. One day the dogs ran over, attacked and ate some of the second farmer’s sheep. What was he to do? He could have called the police and have the first farmer arrested. Or he could ‘settle accounts’ with a punch in the nose. What he chose to do was to give the first farmer’s children each a pet sheep. The children loved their new pets. The farmer loved his children and didn’t want their pets harmed so he contained his dogs so they couldn’t harm any sheep, including the second farmer’s. Eventually, both farmers became good friends. And this, all because the second farmer showed a simple love to the other farmer.
When you see your neighbor suffering, do what you can to ease his load. When you love your Lord, you will love your neighbor. When you love your neighbor, your Lord will love you.
The Spirit of Truth
“If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!
“I will not leave you orphaned. I’m coming back. In just a little while the world will no longer see me, but you’re going to see me because I am alive and you’re about to come alive. At that moment you will know absolutely that I’m in my Father, and you’re in me, and I’m in you.
“The person who knows my commandments and keeps them, that’s who loves me. And the person who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and make myself plain to him.”