Sunday, May 21, 2017

Tremendous Gospel Reading Today - The Best Gospel Reading

I am heading off to a lovely church at Mt Somers (Mid Canterbury) this morning to preach on the lectionary readings and to preside at the eucharist (blessed to be able to do so to enable the local priest and deacon to have a lovely holiday (they are married to each other).

The RCL gospel today is tremendous, the best gospel reading (now, who talks like that???):

John 14:15-21

"”If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
”I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”"

The resurrected Jesus is alive and well and inside you. "The resurrection" is not an historical event if by that we mean that the resurrection only concerns the raising of a dead body on such and such a date from a tomb in the vicinity of Jerusalem. It is both that event of transformation of Jesus of Nazareth and the event of the transformation of our own lives as believers in whom Jesus Christ dwells by the Spirit, "another Advocate."

Christ is alive, Alleluia and he is living in me, you and us the church. Slight awkward implication, however! That means the most direct evidence for the resurrection of Jesus for the disbelieving world around us is, er, um, me, and you. and the church. The church as "the body of Christ" is not an ideal notion of the chummy unity of Christians: it is, literally, the living Christ in the world.

Does the world see the living Christ when it sees the church?

Yes, well, awkward question when we think of the scandals, the shortcomings and the silliness of the church (yes, not one of those funny hats we wear, constitutes evidence for the life of Christ).

But then the point of reading the gospel, to say nothing of preaching the gospel is that we hear and learn again what we are meant to be. Our confession and penitence is our opportunity to say to Jesus, "Here I am Lord. Sorry! Renew your life in me that my life may be your life in the world." Actually, also our confession is corporate: "Sorry, Lord! But here we are, renew a right spirit in us, that we may be the body of Christ, real and not ideal, attractive and not a turn off."

Our eucharistic participation is our feeding on the life of Christ that we may become what we eat and drink: Christ!

And this gospel reading tells us the amazing news that Jesus - the same Jesus who walked the dusty roads of Palestine - wants to live in us and us to live in him.

And, the reading gently challenges and encourages us about what this means: it is not a question of whether we feel Jesus is in us. It is a question of keeping Jesus' commandments.

Am I keeping Jesus' commandments? Are you? Yes? Then the life of Jesus is being lived out within us.

Very cool. The best gospel reading :)


Father Ron said...

A lovely reminder, Peter, of 'The Great love of God as revealed in the Son'. We, too, at St. Michael's, enjoyed the expectation of the empowerment of the 'other Advocate' to be given to the Church at Pentecost. A wonderful opportunity to preach the Good News of the Gospel to all who will hear it. May we become more diposed, day by day, to proclaim this vital message. Meanwhile, we look forward to celebrating the Ascension on Thursday.

Christ is risen, Alleluia! He is risen indeed, Alleluia, Alleluia!

Bryden Black said...

Indeed Peter; this is one of the most beautiful Gospel readings! A serious pity though that the lectionary cuts it short right in the middle; it properly runs to verse 24. That way, as Raymond Brown, et al, points out in his commentary, you have three conditional sections all focusing on each person of the Trinity - tho the last combines Father and Son. With notably the noun form of the classic word "abide" - dwelling place - as well. This then links all the way back to the beginning of the chapter.
Sometimes Peter it pays to stretch the lectionary a little ...