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Thursday 20th May 10.00am
Sunday 23rd May 9.30am
APCM 18th May 2021 7.00pm followed by PCCM
PCC MAP Group 24th May 2021 7.00pm
Sermon Easter 7
Jesus, as he prays to his heavenly Father on behalf of his disciples, says: “They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.” That same sentence would apply to anyone who follows Jesus.
We might think: “Well, I do belong to the world, and it is the only world I have known.” Also, we may be quite attached to the world in various ways. After all, it is a beautiful place. As Louis Armstrong sang: “I say to myself, what a wonderful world.” It is the world of God’s creation and it is given for us to enjoy. There is so much to see and so many experiences to be had.
For all that, it is a world that is scarred in various ways, by violence and disease. The violence in the Holy Land is a crying shame. The effects of a year of Covid are tragic too. The world is also a place of exploitation where some people make themselves very rich at the expense of others. The resources of the world are being depleted, oceans are being polluted and carbon poured into the atmosphere. The results are all too clear. Humanity has not lived up to its calling to be the steward of God’s creation. So, it is a wonderful world from the point of view of creation and natural beauty, but it is a far from perfect place on account of natural disaster and human failure.
To all of this, God’s response is not to wipe away what he has created. Instead, we have a different approach. Earlier on in St John’s gospel, in Chapter 3, verse 17, Jesus says:
“Indeed, God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
So, God does not hate his own creation - including humanity - but intends to redeem it. For this reason, Jesus was born for us, died for us and was raised to new life for us.
Even so, Jesus tells us that he does not belong to the world. By this he means that he does not subscribe to the values of this world. When Jesus stood before the Roman governor, he told him that his was not a kingdom of this world. He did not come to rule over others or to crush his opponents. He came so that the kingdom of God might begin to transform the injustice and the cruelty of this world. In the end he would reign over all, but his kingdom would be one of justice and peace.
In the same way, all who follow Jesus are sharers in the kingdom of God. Whilst living very much in this world, there is a different law to follow and a different value system written on our hearts. In the first letter of St John, we are told that if we love one another, then God lives in us and his love will be complete in us. This way of living is one which is unmistakably different from that which arises from following the ways of a world in which selfishness and the lust for power are all too obvious. People can tell whether or not our faith is genuine. If we profess the faith with our lips, but live as if it made no difference to our lives, then it will make no difference to anyone else either.
Jesus, because he lived by a different set of values, came up against vested interests. The people with power closed ranks against him. Yet, he found the strength and inspiration to follow a different and greater path. Anyone who lives by the values Jesus taught will feel a pull from the opposite direction. Through all this we have a strength and inspiration to draw upon and this does not originate from our world but from its Creator.
As we are just a week away from Pentecost Sunday, we are reminded of the gift of the Holy Spirit, a gift received by all who are baptised. The Holy Spirit of God breathes new life into our mortal bodies. We are no longer subject to a law that corrupts, but we live by a higher and greater law based on the perfection of love. The things of this world come to an end, but we are citizens, through faith, of an everlasting kingdom.