Sunday 10th May – 5th Sunday of Easter
your wounds declare your love for the world
and the wonder of your risen life:
give us compassion and courage
to risk ourselves for those we serve,
to the glory of God the Father.
Standing before the high priest and the council, Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look, ’ he said, ‘I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!’ But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he died.
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’ Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.’
Post Communion Prayer
whose Son Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life:
grant us to walk in his way,
to rejoice in his truth,
and to share his risen life;
who is alive and reigns, now and for ever.
Easter 5 Reflection
The gospel passage in John comes from the middle of the passage where Jesus and His disciples are in the upper room somewhere in Jerusalem just before the Passover feast. As they have been getting closer to Jerusalem the penny is beginning to drop about what Christ’s mission is all about. Jesus has already predicted His death and told the disciples that His heart and spirit has been troubled.
In the upper room Jesus begins to spell the coming events out in even more detail. He sits down to eat the Passover with His disciples and before they even begin He washes their feet as a sign of His servanthood. He then goes on to predicts both His betrayal by one of the disciples and Peter’s denial.
Its no wonder the disciples are getting worried.
Everything seems to be coming unravelled, what once seemed clear seems to have got confused. Jesus, sensing their fear and uncertainty comforts them. He explains that there is a purpose to what’s going on – even if its not very clear to them now. He is in not so many words asking them to have faith – and as I’ve said before faith is about taking a risk. Jesus is asking them to take a risk on him.
At a time when it seems they are just about to become leaderless and rudderless and not know what to do or where to go Jesus tells them that He is going to prepare a place for them and will come back for them so they can be with him for ever. A permanent place where they will live with Him and the Father for all eternity.
The journeying and the travelling will be finally be over. The trials of the journey at an end. And the relationship the disciples have with Jesus and the Father will be changed for ever.
Just like many people know me through the church or through work or some other social contact, but only my children know me as father. Many people know about God, far fewer know Him as Father. Now the disciples will know God as their Father too.
Not surprisingly this all still seems a bit of a mystery to the disciples and Thomas asks for a bit of clarification.
Er… …we don’t know where you are going so how can we know the way?
Jesus says ‘I am the way , the truth and the life’ – I am the way to the father, I am the way you’re looking for. Because to know me fully, says Jesus, is to know the Father.
To be on the way is in a sense to have already arrived. As soon as we acknowledge Jesus in our lives the Kingdom becomes part of us and we become part of the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom of God is both here with us and with God in heaven. But as Jesus goes to the Father the disciples faith and trust would have to reach new dimensions. They would not only have to grasp the truth, they would have to be grasped by the truth and let it rule their lives. A truth that would have repercussions for their lives and their actions day by day.
John begins his gospel by announcing that the word became flesh and lived among us for a while. The word came and camped with us – a common concept in the Old Testament from the Tabernacle onwards. John finishes his gospel by promising a permanent place and residence for everyone who knows the Father.
So the question becomes how do we know God, what is our relationship with Him?
Jesus says ‘If you know me you know the Father’ and you can know God as Father through faith in me. It’s a promise. If the disciples forget everything else they need to hang onto this. And as they come to know God as Father more and more – so their lives, their actions and their words will be transformed more and more. As God and His people work together so His glory can be revealed.
It’s not just about being, it’s about doing as well. For the disciples and for us, a relationship with God as Father through faith in the risen Christ cannot help but affect the way we live, the things we do and the way in which we do them.
In God’s house there is a permanent place for each one of us. He sees us as individuals, all with individual needs, concerns, troubles, gifts, joys and blessings, just like the disciples. He knows what’s going on for each one of us and He cares – even in those times when He seems far from us.
He’s prepared a place for each one of us. God is at the beginning and the end. Christ is the way.
The Spirit which came at that first Pentecost and which still comes to us today empowers us for the journey, for what we ask in His name.
And when Jesus says ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled, do not let then be afraid, he is speaking about the dimensions of God’s love, which is not measured by any of our standards whether temporal or spatial, imaginative or conceptual. The love of the Father is extravagant and generous, a love that comes to find us and in which there is room for everyone. The only measure of it we are given is Jesus himself who is the way to it, the truth of it, and the life it brings.