This sermon was prepared for the Camp Hill Veteran’s Memorial Building (at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital ) chapel service for Sunday, May 28th, 2017. The scripture reading it is based on is John 17:1-11 (Year A, Easter 7).
Jesus, in our scripture reading today, says these words to God: “you have given [the Son] authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God.”
Jesus tells his disciples, in the Gospel of John, that through knowing him we know the Father, this one true God.
Jesus also speaks in a way that often sounds a little like a riddle. The words are confusing in English, as well as in the early Greek. However, with a little patience, we can hear him echoing this idea of knowing God over and over again.
Jesus says that he has made God’s name known. He also says that God gave authority over believers to Jesus during his time on earth. He speaks about teaching these believers the word, or truth, that he learned from his Father.
Jesus, in our John passage, makes it abundantly clear that those who follow him also follow God, and that they do this in truth.
Through Jesus, whom we call The Christ, or the Anointed One, we learn about who God is. This idea invites us to go back, to re-read and reflect on the man we see portrayed by the different gospel writers.
What did he stand for? What did he call us to do?
And, if we believe, that through Jesus, we are presented with this God, we must then conclude that those things Jesus calls us to, God is calling us also.
When Jesus says: “All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.” It would follow that, in our glorification of Christ, by living in the truth he taught us, that we are also glorifying God.
As we read about Jesus’ ascension last week, on Ascension Sunday, we heard about how we are God’s representatives here on earth. We have the opportunity to glorify God, and Christ, in the world.
In the Acts passage which is part of the lectionary today, we see the disciples standing dumbfounded on the hill after Jesus’ ascension. Two robed men, who we believe to be messengers of God, come and laugh at the disciples, saying: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven?”
They’re saying, are you going to stand here forever? Until Jesus comes back? This would never let them fulfil all he had asked of them—to be his witnesses out in the world. To go and care for others, the impoverished, lonely, sick and incarcerated.
Jesus didn’t ask the believers to just stand around twiddling their thumbs, how would that glorify him or the father?
Instead, he commissioned them and sent them out. And, he does the same for us, wherever we are in our lives.
The Gospel stories are just the beginning of the Story of Christianity. The Book of Acts and the Epistles tell us stories of men and women, Greeks and Jews, slaves and free persons, living out their beliefs.
We read their stories to find strength in common struggles, to learn from their wisdom, and to become part of this larger story.
We join with them, acting as witnesses to Christ’s “Good News”, reflecting his image in the world, thereby reflecting God through Christ.
And so, I wonder how you might be that reflection of Christ in your daily life. What are the ways you represent the Gospel message of forgiveness and redemption? (pause) What, in your character, reflects the character of God? (pause)
Do you practice those gifts that Paul extolled in Galatians? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? (pause)
I firmly believe that each of us is able to live out the Gospel message, in our own ways, in the lives that we have been given. We are not all called to be preachers, missionaries, or Biblical scholars…
Instead, God calls us to do well with what we have been given. To steward our talents, to be good neighbours, and to be open to the call of the Spirit—the presence of God in this world.
So, as you go out this week, I pray you can reflect on all you’ve been given, to steward it wisely, to be neighbourly, and to be stirred by the call of the Spirit.