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Sunday Reflection 7th May

By 7th May 2023Reflections

Bible Readings:  1 Peter 2:4-10  John 14:1-14

Our Gospel passage this morning is one that is used by many at funeral services, indeed I myself use it at every funeral service I conduct. And part of the reason for this is because these verses from John – which form part of what is known as the farewell discourse – are often understood as means of saying goodbye. And when Jesus talks about going to prepare a place for them where they can later join him, we perhaps understandably think of them joining Jesus in Heaven at a later date, which is why it is used at funeral services. But is there more to eat as we read the remaining verses in this passage?

Every Sunday we pray for God’s Kingdom to come upon us…our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come…Thus effectively praying for things to be here on earth just as they are in Heaven. Indeed didn’t Jesus himself say that in him, the Kingdom of God was at hand. So what if, at a different level altogether, the place that Jesus talks about preparing is in fact right here on earth, among those who follow him, His Kingdom come…What if this discourse was also intended to help build up God’s Kingdom here on earth right now. That in speaking to his disciples in this way, Jesus is in fact fostering a new spiritual dimension.

If so, perhaps the question is then, what does this mean for us here and now…

The former Moderator of the General Assembly of The Church of Scotland, the Very Rev’d. Dr. Lorna Hood reminds us that after the death of her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles made a commitment to follow the pattern of loving service that the late Queen had demonstrated throughout her life – a service of loyalty, respect and love. And perhaps this is something that we either tend to forget or overlook. That stripped of all the pomp and outward regalia, the Monarchy is essentially a call to service.

Of course the ultimate servant King was our Lord and Saviour, Christ Himself, and the first words spoken by the King at the coronation service yesterday clearly reminded us of this…in his name and after his example I come not to be served but to serve…However, this idea of service doesn’t end with the Monarchy, nor indeed with all who find have positions of responsibility or leadership. It is incumbent upon us all to play our part…

The Apostle Paul once said to those in the new churches that he helped to establish that they should imitate him in their behaviour. Not because he was anything special or worthy of imitation in his own right, no, but because he, Paul, sought to imitate and emulate Jesus Christ in all he said and did. And maybe this is where we begin…

If we are indeed to follow a life of service in Jesus name then we need to remember His teaching. Not because it gives us a definitive answer as such, in telling us specifically the things that we should or shouldn’t do. But rather because it makes us think about what Jesus is actually saying here – that He is the way to follow. Because it’s only when we take the time to reflect on what Jesus is saying to us here that we begin to ask questions like, What would Jesus do in this situation, which way would He choose?

And the more we ask ourselves questions like this in our lives, and the more we take time to look in scriptures for the answers to these questions. The easier it becomes to imitate Him and to walk in His footsteps. Because when we look at Scripture in this way, we realise that by his example, Jesus showed us exactly what we should do…To allow the fruit of the spirit to shine and work through us…showing kindness, love, compassion, generosity, mercy to all. To look out for those less fortunate than we ourselves are. To take care of those most in need. To share the abundant blessings of God in the best way we can. To seek to help others at all time.

This is the life of service we are called to as disciples of Jesus Christ. A way of life that He not only taught us but showed us how to live by His own example. Of course, we all know this deep down within us. Yet, sometimes, somewhere in the entanglement of the busy lives that we lead every day, we can easily lose sight of it.

And only by walking in His footsteps…only by walking in His truth…and only by following His example…Only then can we find our way through this life…to our life with the father ever after…

Every single day life presents us with so many challenges, dilemmas, opportunities, difficulties and tribulations, often all rolled up into one. And the only way we are ever going to find our way through them, in His service and in the way that God would have us do, is to follow in the footsteps of our Saviour, to walk the path that he Himself has set before us and as best we can emulate Him in all we say and do.

In his name and after his example, I come not to be served but to serve…

May God give us all the grace, mercy, strength and faith to do just this – every day of our lives, to the praise and glory of His name.

Amen and thanks be to God.