Damariscotta Baptist Church
Thursday, May 24, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

05/29/11 Sermon

John 14: 15-21
 
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Thy sight O Lord our Strength and our Redeemer, Amen
 
Some of you may know that I’m an old movie buff.  And one of my favorite movies is the 1942 movie Random Harvest adapted from the novel of the same name by Robert Hilton.. It stars Greer Garson and Ronald Colman.  The story opens during the closing days of World War I.  "John Smith" (Ronal Colman) is a British officer who was gassed and became shell-shocked in the trenches. He is confined to an asylum because he has lost his memory and has trouble speaking.  When the war ends, there is a huge celebration in the nearby town of Melbridge and the gatekeepers at the asylum abandon their posts to join the celebration. With no one to stop him, Smith simply wanders off.   
 
In town, he is befriended by a showgirl named Paula, played by Garson. After she discovers he has left the asylum hospital, but seems harmless, she takes him under her wing and arranges for him to join her traveling theatrical group.  But after an incident that threatens to bring unwanted attention, Paula takes Smith to a secluded country village, where they marry and are blissfully happy.  "Smithy", as Paula calls him, discovers a literary talent and tries writing to earn a living.  He leaves Paula and their newborn baby for an overnight trip to Liverpool, for a job interview with a newspaper.  On his way to the interview, he gets hit by a taxi. When he awakens, his past memory before the war is restored, but his life with Paula is now forgotten.
 
We find out his real name is Charles Rainier, son of a wealthy businessman. And the only possession, of his life with Paula was a key that was in his pocket.  Charles returns home and after a few years, he has become so successful that a newspaper touts him as the "Industrial Prince of England."  Meanwhile, Paula has been searching for her Smithy. Losing their son in infancy, she returns to work as a secretary.  One day, she sees Charles' picture in a newspaper and manages to become his executive assistant, calling herself Margaret.  And she hopes that her presence will jog his memory. She’s told by a psychiatrist that simply revealing her identity will only cause Charles to resent her.  So she faithfully stays by him hoping that he will remember her.
 
Charles almost gets married to another woman but he would pull out that key that he always kept in his pocket as it reminded him of something that was missing.  Charles is then elected to Parliament, and he approaches Margaret (Paula) and proposes that they get married as a business proposition because she’s so handy and he needs a wife for social occasions and he also feels like he will never be able to fall in love. 
 
They become an ideal couple, at least to all outward appearance. She is the perfect society hostess. They sometimes discuss his lost past, and at one point, she tells him of her own lost love, without disclosing that it is him.  Finally, mentally exhausted and desperately unhappy, Margaret decides to take an extended vacation by herself.. But before she leaves she revisits the cottage in Melbridge where she and her Smithy lived. 
 
Meanwhile, Charles is called on for business reasons to go to Melbridge which was the city where he was in the asylum.  And as he walks through the town, the familiar surroundings begin to unlock his lost memories.  Perplexed, he goes to the cottage that he and Paula shared in the country.  And as he’s trying to remember, he goes thru the gate and he reaches for the old key in his pocket and finds that it unlocks the door.  And then you hear the voice of Margaret or Paula as she calls his name "Smithy!"  He turns, memories flooding back; he cries out "Paula!" and they embrace………
 
They certainly don’t make them like that anymore!
 
Now I thought about that movie as I was preparing for this week’s message. As we heard read, this is the account of Jesus promising the disciples that even though he would be leaving them, they would not be alone.  For his Father would be sending the Holy Spirit, the advocate who would help them.  The Spirit was being sent to be a reminder to them. Like Paula, the Spirit was being sent to be with them and help them remember who they were.  The Spirit was sent to jog their memories. And that’s something they needed and we need as well.
 
You see one of our biggest problems (even Christians) is that we can have amnesia when it comes to remembering who we are and what we’re supposed to be doing.  We human beings by nature are famous for being forgetful of God.  In fact the early church defined people who were lost as people who had amnesia.  In a way, all of us human beings are walking around like Smithy; we’ve got a key in our pocket trying to remember who we are. We’re searching and seeking. We’re incomplete, we know something’s missing but we can’t quite put our finger on it.  That is until we come to know Christ. Then we are on the journey of claiming our true identity; our memory begins to come back to us. We know who we are and whose we are. We know the truth.
 
But since we are human beings, by nature, we can still forget.
 
And Jesus knew that----- so he sent the Holy Spirit to us (just like to the disciples) to nudge us, to prod us and remind us.
 
But what exactly is the Holy Spirit reminding us of???? What specifically are we being prodded to remember?
 
What is the key in our pockets pointing us to?
 
Well the first thing that the Holy Spirit is reminding us of---- is that we’re not alone. Jesus said that even though he was leaving the disciples, they would not be orphaned. For those who love Jesus, he was sending the Holy Spirit to be present with them always.
 
Like Paula was always present to Smithy, the Holy Spirit is always with us. Sometimes we may not be aware; we may have forgotten. But that doesn’t mean that the Holy Spirit is not with us.  In fact the Spirit comes to us and reminds us of His presence all the time.
 
Have you ever had a tear well up when you sing a certain hymn or read a verse of scripture?  Or how about the affirmation in our heart and a nodding of our head when we hear a spoken truth?  And what about the sudden feeling of comfort after prayer or strength in the midst of tragedy?  How about the conviction and courage to stand up to injustices?  And then there’s the assurance of grace and forgiveness when we’ve done something wrong. Or the mercy that we somehow offer to someone who deserves something else.
 
Inside of us, whether we’re aware of it or not, is the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit who came to us thru our faith in Christ.
 
Jesus didn’t leave us alone; the Holy Spirit reminds us of this truth all the time if we listen.
 
Now besides reminding us that we’re not alone, the Spirit is also reminding us that we’re to love Jesus.
 
Now this isn’t some demand or legalistic rule that we better love Jesus or else.  Instead the Holy Spirit is nudging us to remember that Jesus loved us first. Because Jesus loves us and gives himself for us unconditionally we can’t help but respond in love.  So the Spirit is simply reminding us why we love Jesus. 
 
The writer Anne Lamott in her book Traveling Mercies, tells of how she became pregnant by a married man. She had an abortion and she drank and took pills to dull the pain.  Then, one night, lying in the darkness, she became aware of someone with her, hunkered down in the corner. She knew it was Jesus.  She writes, "I felt him just sitting there on his haunches in the corner of my sleeping loft, watching me with patience and love."  For the next few days, Lamott sensed Jesus following her everywhere, like "a little cat." Finally, she took a long, deep breath and said out loud, "All right. You can come in."  Looking back on the experience, Lamott says, "I was dying, and I got a second chance. I do believe I was saved."……………..
 
Because Jesus loved her and saved her and offered her unconditional grace and mercy, Lamont received the Holy Spirit who reminds her of that time when Jesus loved her first.
 
We need to be reminded over and over to love Jesus because it reminds us of the truth that he loved us first and continues to love us.  For us to love him means we’re remembering him and his unbelievable love for us…..
 
Now another thing the Spirit reminds us of is that we’re called to follow Jesus’ command to love others……But like the command to love Jesus, this command to love others is not some legalistic or moralistic obedience.  Instead it’s also a response of love from the One who loved us first.  Before we can truly love others we have to be in a loving relationship with Jesus.
 
You see without that relationship, we will either choose not to love others or it will become a legalistic rule of “doing good” (the Pharisees did this---they thought it would get them to heaven) or it will be about self-gratification of self or recognition from pleasing others. (Philanthropy).
 
But Jesus calls us to love others from that humility and love we have for him. We act in selfless unconditional love because of He who lives within us and who loved us first unconditionally.  So the Holy Spirit is rattling our memories reminding each of us individually that we are to continually and personally nurture and cultivate our relationship with Jesus to remember his love that we might love others.
 
Now that’s not the same things as simply coming to church on Sunday or to a small group and let someone tell us who we are and tell us what were supposed to do.
 
A few years ago President Bush was visiting a nursing home, where he took the hand of an elderly man walking the halls who he thought didn’t remember who he was. So asked kindly, "Sir, do you know who I am?" The man replied, "No, but if you ask the nurses they can tell you."
 
Too often we want someone else to tell us who we are and what we’re supposed to do.  So many congregations, especially in an institutional model, can be dependent on a pastor to tell them who they are and what they’re supposed to do instead of listening and cultivating their personal relationship themselves.  But the truth of the matter is, when people are choosing to just let the pastor tell them who they are and what they’re supposed to do; what’s happening is that they’re intentionally choosing to be amnesiacs. They’re saying “I really don’t want to remember who I’m called to be because it will cost me too much”.
 
People resist the Holy Spirit’s reminder in order to be comfortable and uninvolved and uncommitted. They fear what Jesus may call them to do.
 
But when we truly love Jesus and intentionally cultivate that relationship by listening and growing, we remember who we are and we then naturally follow his command to love others.  We seek to love others unconditionally with no strings attached.
 
I love the Help Your Neighbor day we had a few weeks ago.  We went out and cleaned up cemeteries that nobody could tend to. We painted the dugouts at great Salt bay elementary school. We took wood to someone in need and hauled off debris for those who were unable.
 
A few weeks ago we had the beginning of prayer shawls being knitted to be given with nothing in return. In a few weeks we will be hosting the Pirate Rendezvous dinner and breakfast to help the community.
 
There’s the divorce care ministry that’s helping people because of love for God and love for those going thru a divorce. Some of you are even keeping the children of participants.
 
This week the Parent Teacher Organization at Great Salt Bay school needs some cakes for their cake walk. Can you make a cake for the kingdom of God???
 
You know what we go out of doing these things? Nothing!!!  At least nothing in the way the world might think. But in the realm of God these are HUGE!!!  We do these things because Jesus calls us to love others (period); to make a difference in His Kingdom with no thought of getting anything in return.  This selflessness comes from who we are; it comes from nurturing our relationship with Jesus and claiming his identity which becomes ours.  And as we do, we naturally love others and serve others and shed light in our community. We can’t help it because we’re claiming our lost identity.
 
We are remembering who we are and whose we are and we’re living it out……………….
 
Today we’re being reminded that the Holy Spirit is jogging our memory---- we have not been left alone.  The Spirit lives within us and is reminding us to love Jesus, because to love him is to remember that he loved us first.  And the Spirit is also rattling our memory to cultivate our relationship with Jesus that we might follow his command to love others; because as we do we grow to become more fully aware of who we are and whose we are.
 
Ask yourself today, “Is there a key in my pocket that reminds me of a life that I’m missing?
 
Am I unfulfilled, seeking after contentment in self-gratification? Am I lacking the true life and true calling that I am meant to have?
 
If you are, the Holy Spirit is reminding you to follow Jesus and his commands. It’s the only way to find your true self. Ask him to help you and he will.
 
The Spirit is blowing thru this place. Listen for the calling of your true name, receive Him into your heart, remember your true identity and claim who you really are.
 
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen