May I speak in the Name of the Son, in the Power of the Holy Spirit, to the Glory of God the Father. AMEN.
Many sermons end with a pastoral prayer; this sermon follows one.
Like many preachers Jesus addresses God on behalf of his congregation; at the same time, he lets us know what he has been talking about all along. And that is good news for us.
Jesus both intercedes for us and instructs us, in this one prayer.
Jesus is the good shepherd, the pastor of us all: he has made his prayer to the Father for us in the gospel of John, in the 17th chapter. And this is what he says:
He asks that God glorify his Son, that his Son may bring glory to him, and he proclaims the power of God through Christ to give eternal life to all people.
He explains that to have eternal life is to know the one true God, and his Son.
Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Following Jesus, we come to the Father. Believing in Jesus, we come to know God. Through Christ we receive eternal life.
Jesus continues his prayer: he has completed the work he was sent on earth to do, and now he asks God the Father to make known to the world the glory that God the Son had before the beginning of the world. It was through him that all things were made. Every thing that comes into being comes into being through him.
Everything that receives life, receives it through him. That is how it has been since the beginning of the world – since before the world began. And now we are invited to receive, refreshed and new, life in the one in whom life is made: God the Son. Christ. Jesus.
Jesus has revealed God to the ones whom he taught, his disciples and apostles. They have been faithful, and followed him, and believed in him, and known him, and through him they have come to life in the presence of God.
And they have come to know that through Jesus we receive eternal life – and that is the news that they have to share with us. For what Jesus taught, they have passed on to us, and the truth that they found in him, they have given us.
Jesus is now with the Father. His message remains. He gave it to his disciples, and they passed it on – and so it has come to us.
He prays on their behalf: to God he commends his followers as really belonging to God. These are God’s people, and in God’s care. You are God’s people, and in God’s care. And it is through them and through you that God is glorified.
Through the miracle of the church, through the joy of faith, through the presence of Christ among us in the breaking of the bread, in the prayers, in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, God is glorified – and we receive eternal life.
This is the mystery of all the ages – and it is open to us to know and to share in, freely, as God’s gift to humanity through his son Jesus Christ. Eternal life comes from the same source that is the origin of all life – from God in Christ.
This is amazing news, and blessed assurance. We belong to God, we are his; and he is the source of all life and all being, from the beginning to the end.
There is an unbroken chain of witness, of glory, from God the Father to his Son, to his disciples, to us – we are the people of God on the face of the earth today.
We are his witnesses; and to him we give glory. This we do and can do because we live in the presence and the power of God in the Spirit – and we celebrate our new life, together, every time we come together around the Lord’s Table.
As we remember Christ’s sacrifice, his offering of himself – his whole life, his witness to God the Father, his willingness to give his life to the glory of God, his resurrection to the new life and his ascension to be with God the Father – we remember and make present in our own lives the power and glory of God.
This simple act, of sharing bread and wine and the good gifts of the earth, makes present to us in our world and in our lives the practical presence of God.
It shows that God’s gifts of creation are good, and that what he has made lasts.
He has made the world, and he has made us to rejoice and be glad in it.
Let us celebrate together the life we have in Christ, received in his Name and to his glory.
Let us live together in that new life, in Christ, rejoicing in the presence of God and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The 7th Sunday of Easter – May 4, 2008
Psalm 68:1-10, 33-36
1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11