Witnesses to Glory

by May 24, 2020Sermons

John 17:1-11

Holy Father, protect them in your name

There are some stories which appear timeless. I was struck by the favourite movies people sent in for this week’s newsletter. Films covering a wide range of cinematic history, and telling very different stories in many genres. But good stories speak to us where-ever we are,
and unfold new meaning as we bring new experiences to them. An 8 year old and a 28 year old would get very different things from the Harry Potter books. Both would probably enjoy them, but our experience shapes what we hear on the page, on the stage or the screen.

Sometimes the three year Lectionary cycle which dictates the readings we use each Sunday is amazingly poigniant: Today Peter writes in his letter: ‘do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you’ It can feel like it is speaking to us here and now, certainly, anytime we are suffering, whether it is Covid-19 related or not, our understanding of these passages gains some extra depth. Though in fact, Peter is writing to the persecuted church of his time, who are being reviled for the name of Christ. However difficult we find things, it is always worth remembering that the pain we share in not being together to worship. The disappointment which perhaps you feel at not being able to receive readily the sacrament in your mouth, and which we feel consuming it on behalf of so many and without the physical company which would be the right place for us to share in this sacred meal. That same disappointment has been felt by Persecuted Christians for 2000 years. But Peter tells us to cast our anxiety onto Christ, who takes that to the cross, and then to the Father. Because he cares for you. Because he loves you.

In this morning’s gospel we hear Jesus pleading for his followers, that the Father protect them. This is a prayer which Jesus makes during the last supper, before leading his disciples out to the garden of Gethsemane. In his prayers, Jesus explains that he has been glorified in those who the Father gave him, in his disciples. in us all. Just as in the story of his Ascension he tells the disciples that they must be witnesses in Jerusalem, all of Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the Earth. We are reminded of the frailty and quietness of the disciples to this point. They are about to scatter, and yet, even then, Jesus trusts them to be witnesses of what is to transpire. Because the going up of Jesus is not the deserting of these disciples, but the empowering of them. Because the act of Jesus’ ascension assumes humanity into the godhead in Christ and leads directly to the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost.

The idea of being witnesses is not an easy one. It can be daunting to think of ourselves as representatives of Christ on earth. But Jesus is glorified in each of us. We each have an experience of the divine, sometimes more so than others. We are each witnesses to God’s glory,  perhaps in the what we say, or what we do. It comes with a weight, a challenge, but that is why we devote ourselves to pray with the disciples: 

Come, Holy Spirit, Come.

The Reverend Robin Sims-Williams

Weekly Services

Sunday Mornings

8.00am Morning Prayer in the lady chapel
10.00am Parish Eucharist with choir and Sunday School

Weekday Services

Christian Meditation Wednesdays at 9.10am
Said Eucharist on Wednesdays at 11.00am
Evening Prayer
Monday through Thursday at 5.30pm

Please note that Public worship has been suspended, you can therefore participate in these services via Facebook live stream

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