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Easter 7B Sermon
John 17:6-19
13, 2018


Sermon Archives


John 17:6-19

‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

May the grace, mercy and peace of God our Father be with us in the name of his son, our risen Lord and savior Jesus Christ.Amen.

Our Gospel lesson this morning is the main section of a prayer that Jesus says on the night of his betrayal and trial, the night before his death on the cross. He knows that life will not be easy for his disciples, so he prays for them while they are able to overhear him. You might notice that he prays for us too, and for all of come to faith in him on account of the witness of these disciples. As I hear this passage today – Mother’s Day, 2018 – verse 15 stands out to me. It is the same verse that you see on the front of the bulletin: “I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. As we consider our call to live in, but not “of” this world, we cannot help but think of the people that God has used to protect us when times have threatened us. Few of us have lived through the experiences that our friend, Norbert Peiker, has lived through. Norbert has shared his story with me – it is a story that he has shared with many Via de Christo retreat groups over the years as a witness to power of the Holy Spirit. He has asked to share his story with us this morning, and I jumped at the chance of sharing the message time with him this morning.

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,Happy Mother’s Day.Today will bring smiles on mothers’ faces… hugging sons and daughters, grandchildren, and anyone who calls you “Mother”. This is your special day… We celebrate you.

Well, there are situations that cause worries, grave concerns, fear… not only here in our country, but envision a mother hugging her son,her daughter, not knowing whetherwar, chemical warfare, terror,lack of food and water will allow a tomorrow?Please allow me to share my story:

It was February 25 and 26, 1944. A freezing night in Germany… Papa, had been drafted by the German war machine, and deployed to fight in Poland - his right hand now crippled from the bullet that entered his elbow and exited at the palm of his hand only 11 days into the war, physically disabled… Out of the hospital he was assigned to work at Messerschmitt in Augsburg, less than four miles from our home, where fighter airplanes were build. He was at work.

On that memorable day, February 25th, “Operation Big Week” got underway, waves of targeted air strikes by US forces during daytime. Then the night came… Sirens went off. The British were coming… Mama grabbed our 5 months old baby, Eberhard. I, only 3-1/2 years old, woke up Klaus, one year younger and deaf. Down the steep stairs to the basement shelter! A single candle tried to warm the cold room. Mama sat on the cot, holding the baby in her arms. Klaus and I shared the other cot, government issued gasmasks by our sides. We heard the planes coming…Eeeee Boom, Eeeee Boom, Boom… All shook.Klaus, feeling the vibration, jumped up, hung on my chest. Fear. Oh God. My whole body shook.

“Mama, are we dying? “Mama!” Our baby in one arm, Mama on her knees in front of Klaus and me, one hand on my head… her face almost stoic… a little spark in her eyes… “Jesus loves you, He protects, don’t be afraid, He has plans…” She smiled. I calmed. Concerned I asked, “Mama, did Papa get to the bunker?” “No, he is hiding in the woods.”Papa came home late. From the second-floor window we saw the city… a burning inferno. That night 850 civilians died, over 1,600 major firesdevastated the city, 85,000 lost their homes… The British had bombed Augsburg’s inner city…

The next morning Papa, and this little 3-1/2-year old sitting on the gas tank of his small motorcycle, drove through the woods to see whether the bombardment left a job for Papa. The bunker (where he was to find shelter) had received a full hit. The stench unbearable… Destruction. The torso of a woman, blackened, no head, no legs “glued” to the concrete wall corner where the ceiling met. Horror…

70 years later, February 26, 2014, a documentary of the bombing raids of my hometown, performed on Stage of the Augsburg Theater, premiered. Ironically, my professional actor brother, Eberhard, back then only 5 months old, relived my memories that were included by the playwright. Yes, Mama was right, God had plans for us…

77 years old, I have experienced many ups and downsduring my lifetime, yet the spark in Mama’s eyes, coming from her soul, so vital to me and my five siblings, became our torch to carry on after Mama went home at the age of only 46. Her fire continues to burn in us.“Living Faith… Hope… Love… Humility…” We strive for it, Mama lived it.

I accepted that Living Faith is a gift from God. He chose me to fulfill His plan. I trusted His Will and accepted His Grace. I realized I can expect everything from God when my human efforts are exhausted. I receive His spiritual gift. My physical and mental weaknesses transformed into Hope and caused me to realize that my work is really God’s work. “Isn’t God calling on us to be faithful, not necessarily successful? The only failure is not to try.” Apostolic hope increases when human hope is gone… So, I keep trying…

God’s Love flows from Him through me… to those in need. Having God’s love in me simplifies my calling.Most of all, having been battling cancer for 22 years, my illness teaches me Humility, beingaware of our smallness in relation to God. Humility results when we realize that as Christians we are God’s representatives, His ambassadors on earth. We are here for His purpose…
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ, thank you for allowing me to share Mama’s story, my story. The values that a simple woman, Berta Karolina Peiker, instilled in us six children live onin usuntil we will see Mama again in heaven. Happy Mothers’ Day.

Thank you for sharing that emotional, powerful story of your mother’s love and influence in your life, Norbert. As we think about the people that God has sent into our lives to provide protection, sustenance, nurture and encouragement, I am sure that most of us will place our mothers at the top of that list. My parents both were sources of all of those things, and on this day that we honor our mothers, I cannot help but give thanks for the partnership that my parents both shared as the head of our family, and as leaders in their church.

Karolina Wilhelmina Sandell, a pastor’s daughter, was born October 3, 1832 in Sweden. When she was 12 years old she was stricken with a paralysis and, although she was declared incurable by physicians, later recovered her health. When she was 26 her father fell from a boat on a trip and drowned before her eyes. Two years later her mother also died. Fortunately, Karolina – or Lina for short – had begun writing hymns when she was very young. One of her best known hymns was written when she was still in her teens … and we will sing it shortly in the service. Children of the Heavenly Father might seem more suitable for Father’s day next month, but I also lift it up today as an inspiration from and for someone who experiences tragedy with their fathers and mothers in life. Jesus knows that the world is still captive to alien, evil spirits and it is not easy for his disciples to always remember the promise that Norbert shared with us – that God has plans and they call forth Living Faith, Hope and Love. So Jesus prays that in the midst of forces of greed, scarcity and fear, God our Father will provide the spirit of humility, abundance and trust to comfort and guide us. At their best, mothers live out that vocation for their children and families. And where they are not able, God provides other witnesses … even old Swedish hymns … to do the same.

Thanks be to God today for the love that Jesus prays for, a love that so many of us experienced from our mothers. As we remember and celebrate them today, bless us to be holy blessings in this world of alien spirits, so that your love may win. Amen.