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2017-05-28 Easter 7

SERMON

Easter 7 Sunday after Ascension (28th May 2017)

based on John 17:1-11, 1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11

Our gospel reading this morning is on the eve of Jesus’ crucifixion

It is the eve of his departure from his disciples.

This matters, because it helps set the scene for Jesus’ words to his disciples and all this forms part of a much larger prayer that Jesus offers to His father. that cover most of chapter 17 of John's gospel

In this prayer Jesus says this:

All mine are yours and yours are mine and I have been glorified in them

This is a staggering statement from Jesus, praying as he was for his disciples who were at the least, a motley bunch of people who were soon to betray him

People who on occasions would

show more fear than faith

be more timid than strong

be more cowardly than brave

These were vulnerable people trusted by Jesus to carry out his work. Trusted by the Son of God to continue in the ministry that he would leave behind, and staggeringly, trusted to such an extent that Jesus could say to God the Father:

I have been glorified in them

I have been glorified in this bunch of weak and vulnerable people

We should take heart from this biblical account and in fact we should rejoice in it. That God can be glorified in vulnerable people.  If this is not good news then nothing is.

The good news is that God is at work in us, and with us. That he will be known by, and through the ones He loves. That He will be glorified EVEN in us. EVEN in you and me

Steve Chalke, in his book  Intelligent Church states that:

an intelligent church is a vulnerable church

The gospel writers reveal that in his daily life, Jesus lived with vulnerability

                                                                   He never owned a home

Had no material wealth

Was constantly misjudged

He spent the majority of his time with the: the sick, unclean, the outcasts.  He constantly challenged the status Quo (the way that things had always been done)

Vulnerability is often mistaken for weakness or powerlessness, yet in the greatest example that we have, (Jesus himself) vulnerability is neither.

In Jesus, we see someone whose vulnerability is a self-imposed choice.

Jesus chose to be vulnerable – it was not imposed upon him, so in Christ we encounter

self-imposed vulnerability. The result of power purposefully given up.

His ability to make himself vulnerable is the outcome of his sense of self-understanding. He could not be demeaned by any task – even that of washing his disciples feet.

The ability to make oneself vulnerable is always linked to one's own sense of security in one's self

In any relationship that we have, the more secure that we are in ourselves, the more able we are to be vulnerable and here's the reason:

The more truly vulnerable we are in relationships, the more we allow others the room to grow and develop.  At the heart of a vulnerable church is the commitment to honour and respect people, irrespective of their background or position

It is the deep conviction that we as Christians should never use power or privilege to our own advantage.  It is the ability to give ourselves away and to allow our own dreams, our aspirations, our own wants and needs to die, that some else might blossom, might thrive, might live a better life.

It is learning how to protect the weak rather than to exploit them.  it's learning how to trust them rather than restrict them

I wonder if we here in this church could ever consider having our own "charter".  our own bold declaration written and published for all to see that said:

 

We will provide an inclusive service to our community

by serving and respecting ALL people

regardless of their Gender, marital status,

race, ethnic origin  religion, age,

sexual orientation or physical or mental capacity

I wonder if we could ever do that here, if we could ever make ourselves that vulnerable

When we make ourselves vulnerable others are more likely to trust us and Jesus himself was truly vulnerable

Only when we become more like him will we have the courage to lift our eyes, the courage to lift our eyes from the needs of our churches and congregations. The courage to see and serve our WHOLE communities

To give up our control and work as PART OF our community, rather than APART FROM our community

 

This WILL be costly and it will hurt.

We will be criticised by other Christians

It will make us vulnerable

 

BUT - It will make us much more effective

AND - It will make us more like Jesus

AMEN


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