May 15 Sermon "LIFELONG LEARNING!"
 
Bible Readings - Acts 2:1-21, John 14: 8-18, 25,26

This is the time of year in which students are excited about graduation.
Whether its college or high school or elementary levels, its a big deal.
Even in churches, many kids will be ‘graduating’ from Confirmation class.
And there will be ceremonies and celebrations for their accomplishments.

And, you know, to have achieved a certain level of learning is a great thing.
It takes a lot of hard work and perseverance to get to that point in education.
There is only one problem that can often go along with the hoopla over all this.
Graduates tend to think at the time that they are finished, that…the learning is over

When you finish whatever level of school, you often believe that your learning is done.
All the teaching has had its good impact upon you and now its time to go to work.
In a job, you can then apply what you’ve learned and go from there on to success.
This is true whether you’ve been to college or an apprentice training program.

But the truth is,… that we only learn so much from our parents at home.
We only learn so much from the teaching time in classrooms.
There is, beyond all of that, a continued learning that we need to engage in.
In classroom study, or ‘on the job’ learning in the ‘school of hard knocks’ of life.
And part of our continued education is to be reminded of what we already learned.

When Jesus left his disciples as he ascended into heaven, he does not abandon them.
He even says to them that “I will not leave you orphaned;.. I am coming to you”.
What he tells them he will do is send himself through the Holy Spirit of God.
One of the bible translations for the Greek word “Paraclete” is, ‘Helper’.

Jesus tells his followers that he will send them a ‘helper’, the Spirit, to be with them.
He promises that the Holy Spirit will be with and comfort them so they are not afraid.
And,..the Spirit “will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you”.
In other words,….the Holy Spirit will be in charge of their ‘continued education’.
Because even though they had been with Jesus,…they still needed to keep learning.

Just like students think they have gotten all the knowledge they need upon graduation,
we can sometimes think that we’ve learned all that we need to about the Christian faith.
Learned all that we can or need to about the sayings and stories of Jesus Christ.
We figure we know all that is necessary to realize our forgiveness and salvation.

But here’s the thing about all that learning;…
it doesn’t stop in Sunday school, or Confirmation class, or when we’ve become adults.
It doesn’t end if we’ve been attending church for decades or reached a certain age.
And, as many of us know,.we can forget things we learned so it helps to be reminded.

And, as we go through life what we were taught about God becomes more relevant.
Like when we’d sit in some classes and say ‘When am I ever gonna use this stuff?”
But later on, we are reminded of what we learning and see how its relevant or important.
Same too, as we encounter life, we see how the Jesus story and sayings apply to us!

So this is one of the jobs that the Holy Spirit of God, sent by Jesus, does for us.
The Spirit opens our minds to better understand the things of Christ to us all the time.
The Spirit stirs memory to recall what Jesus said and did so we can apply it to daily life.
The Spirit opens our hearts to reveal to us how God IS AT WORK in our lives! 

For example;…
When we suffer hardship and affliction and it seems so unfair and undeserved,…
we recall that Jesus had even worse hardships and afflictions.
And the Spirit re-teaches us that Jesus told us God knows and shares our hurts.

When we feel betrayed by those who are supposed to be our friends or supporters,…
we recall that Jesus was betrayed by some of his friends and abandoned by all of them.
Then the Spirit helps us to re-learn Jesus call for us to forgive and love our enemies. 

When we feel tempted by the Devil to do things that are contrary to God’s will,….
we recall that Jesus too was tempted the same way and struggled with it.
Then the Spirit helps us remember that we pray for God to help us not to be tempted.

And so the Holy Spirit has helped teach us with what we’ve learned all along. 
But we keep on learning what it means to be forgiven and to forgive others.
We keep understanding more deeply how God’s ways are not our ways.
That we have to bend and change to be in line with the ways of God.
We keep learning how to understand how his death sets us free from death.
These can be challenging concepts, but the Spirit helps us to continue to learn our faith.

We learn from being at worship in church and from what is said and sung here.
We learn from the words of scripture or a devotional book we might use.
We learn from recalling we are baptized and from partaking of Holy Communion often.
We learn when the Spirit uses other people in our lives to help us re-learn these things.

On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came to the believers and some strange things happened.
But what may have seemed like brief show to some,…was more than that.
According to what Jesus told his followers, that Spirit would remain to help them.
Help them cope with adversity in life, as they tried to live a life in their faith in him.
And help them strengthen that faith through constant reminders and continued learning.

Know that the same Spirit can, and does, help each of us in daily life.
Helps us to forgive, as we are forgiven,…to love, as we are loved,…and to live in Christ.
The Spirit will keep helping us with those things, because,...God knows,..as we get older we all need help learning and remembering.

Amen