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Sunday of Easter, Yr C, St Mark’s, 12.05.2013
Acts 16.16-34: Paul & Silas imprisoned; earthquake, jailer & household baptized
Rev 22.12-14, 16-17, 20-end: A & O, I am coming to repay; wash robes, water of life
Jn 17.20-end: Fr, love you loved me may be in them & I in them.
The lectionary readings from the Second Sunday of Easter to today have
invariably been taken from the Acts of the Apostles, the Book of Revelation and
Our readings from Acts have been following the movement of the Good News
The Book of Revelation comes from a period of persecution when it was
felt that all hell was about to break loose, so to speak.
But in the midst of all this there are glimpses of the glory and worship
of the heavenly courts, and it is from these passages that our readings have
been carefully chosen. A very fine scholar named George Caird wrote a commentary
on the book where he demonstrated that in the writing there is a continual
interplay between the heavenly courts coming down to the earth and the reader
being raised up to them – sort of like those lifts on the outside of modern
buildings where you can see one lift going up and another one coming down at the
same time. In other words, in
Revelation we are simultaneously in the heavenly courts - and in the midst of
all hell breaking loose, with the ultimate victory assured even as we are in the
midst of a seemingly hopeless situation. This
is the answer of an exiled Christian under persecution at the end of the first
And where does that leave us?
We have had Easter Day, last Thursday was the Ascension, and next Sunday
is Pentecost. In a sense we may say that at Easter we celebrated a Raising, at
the Ascension we celebrated a Going, and at Pentecost we shall celebrate both a
Coming and an Abiding.
Easter celebrates a Raising: the Father’s raising of Jesus from the
dead and a raising of us into new life when we were baptized into Christ's
Ascension celebrates a going of Jesus to the Father and an invitation and
opportunity for us to go with him as we grow up into the fullness of the stature
Pentecost will celebrate the Coming and Abiding of the Holy Spirit through whom
we know Christ's coming and abiding in and with us.
It is the essence of that abiding that is spelled out in the last verse
of today's reading from John, when Jesus, after the supper and before the cross,
prays to the Father for his disciples. He
says, "I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that
the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them."
Earlier Jesus is presented as saying: "I am going
to the Father". Then, after
saying that the disciples will be scattered he says, "Yet I am not alone,
because the Father is with me."
"I am going to the Father" and at the same time,
"The Father is with me."
So there is a going and an abiding, just as we are called
to follow Jesus and to be with him.
It is the Christian experience, as expressed by
So the abiding is an abiding in love, and the going is a
going in love. And it is the abiding
that makes possible the going, for, even in purely human terms, it is only as we
are loved that we learn to love and are empowered to love.
New-born babies are self-centred. Unless
they are loved, they never learn to love. As
the first letter of John expresses it: "We love because He first loved
us." This letter, which is from
the same community as the 4th Gospel, goes on to say, "Perfect love casts
out fear." That is, it is love,
and love alone, that can free us from all our hang-ups - that can free us from
concern for my rights, my perks, my justice, even my good name; that frees us
from the need to look out for Number One, namely, myself.
In short, it is love that frees us to love - which means to give
ourselves for others for their welfare and well-being without counting the cost.
As St Paul expresses it in his letter to the Galatians, "I have been
crucified with Christ; it is no longer my ego that lives, but Christ who lives
in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of
God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
And as Jesus' going to the Father in the way of love has
been a going in the way of the cross, so as we go in him who is for us The Way,
the Truth and the Life, so our going as well is a going in the way of the cross.
It is a dying to ourselves and all our pretensions and a living in the
self-same total trust in the Father that we have seen in Christ.
All four of our Gospels emphasize that Jesus reigns as
king precisely from the cross. So,
if we are to participate in his reign, then it will be as, and only as, we go
with him, and in him, as members of his Body, in the way that he goes to the
Father, in the Way of the Cross. And
we shall do this day by day just as Jesus has done it, not in our own strength,
but in the strength of the Father's love, for "the Father loves you
It is the reign of God's love in our hearts, strengthened
and renewed at the Lord's Table, as we feed on him who gave his life for us and
for all - it is this reign of love that frees us to die to ourselves that we may
live for others - it is this love that casts out our fears -
We are freed from the fear of failure: because we are so deeply loved, we
don't have to succeed; therefore we are freed to try even when we may fail.
We are freed from the fear of rejection: because we are the beloved we
can reach out to those in need even if they reject us.
We, the beloved, the reconciled, are given, in
In our final hymn we sing once more of Christ as our
king, and this is how we reign with him, this is how he abides in us, and this
is how we go with him to the Father.