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Weekly Worship Resources and Bible Study Notes

Easter 5


In my Father's house there are many rooms In the ancient world a person's last words were always very special. Biographers would take great care to ensure they contained the most important things which future generations should learn. Deuteronomy, as Moses' last words, fits this category, as do the Testaments of the 12 Patriarchs and many other such writings in the Jewish and Christian world. This is also why people have found in these chapters of John a rich treasury for their faith. 

Jesus' last words here, remind us that He and the Father are one, and in Him we too have a place in that relationship, which is eternal and will never end. The disciples were confused by this but the response of Jesus is wonderfully simple: believe in God! believe also in me. 

Opening Verse of Scripture1 Peter Chapter 2

You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light

Collect Prayer for the Day — Before we read we pray

Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ have overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: grant that, as by your grace going before us you put into our minds good desires, so by your continual help we may bring them to good effect; through Jesus Christ our risen Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.   Common Worship

Risen Christ, your wounds declare your love for the world and the wonders of your risen life: give us compassion and courage to risk ourselves for those we serve, to the glory of God the Father. Common Worship Shorter Collect

Loving and eternal God, through the resurrection of your Son, help us to face the future with courage and assurance, knowing that nothing in life or death can ever part us from your love for us in Jesus Christ our saviour; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.  Methodist Worship

Eternal God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the way the truth and the life: grant us to walk in his way, to rejoice in his truth, and to share his risen life; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.  Methodist Worship

First Bible Reading  Acts 7:55-60

But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

Second Reading  1 Peter 2: 2-10

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, the living Stone–rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him– you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him  will never be put to shame. ”Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected  has become the capstone, and, “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message–which is also what they were destined for. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Gospel Reading John 14:1-14

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
 

Post Communion Sentence

Eternal God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life: grant us to walk in his way, to rejoice in his truth, and to share his risen life; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen


Commentary

‘In my Father’s House’
The words which Jesus speaks today in John 14 come in the context of a meal just before the Passover. We are told that Jesus knew that the time for him to die was fast approaching (13:1). Jesus has started the evening by washing the disciples feet (13:4). Then he goes on to predict that he will be betrayed and he tells Judas to 'do it quickly’ and Judas leaves the gathered disciples (13:30). Jesus tells the faithful ones left that they must love each other and that by their love people will come to know that they are disciples of his (13:35). Effectively Jesus is saying that he will live on through the lives which his followers live as an example of his teaching. Jesus then has the sad task of telling Peter that he will disown him no less than three times (13:38).

Imagine perhaps you are Peter, you have just heard Jesus tell of his impending betrayal, and you have been told that you will deny Jesus three times in the early morning even before a cock has crowed. How do you feel? Undoubtedly this was a low point for the disciples, they are on the verge of catastrophic failure, their hopes and dreams lie shattered. The scene is one of anxiety, indeed Jesus himself uses the word ‘orphans’ to describe them. The disciples had expected that they would be following Jesus until he established his reign and they would share in that. A future without Jesus was a shattering thought. It is to these despairing disciples when they are profoundly upset that Jesus says the words we read this morning in which he seeks to move the disciples from their fear to faith,
‘Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me.’

So Jesus is heading for the agony of the cross, we know that he is deeply troubled in heart (12:27) and spirit (13:21). Yet in this time of enormous personal trouble we find Jesus not thinking of himself and his own woes, but rather giving emotional and spiritual support and comfort to the disciples. They are in a state of confusion and fearful, so he is seeking to give them truths which will help them overcome their grief and despair in the days ahead.

We use these words at funerals, because the way that the disciples felt that evening is how we feel when we lose somebody at death. Like them our hopes and dreams feel shattered and there seems utter despair at the separation from our loved ones. We too feel angry, guilty and hopeless all at the same time. Jesus makes it clear that the answer to such anxiety and troubled spirit, is to trust. Worry loses its power when we are in the presence of Jesus. To the disciples, what is about to unfold is a disaster and there is no future worth living for, however Jesus realises that the events which will take place will end ultimately in a magnificent future.

That future is described in simple, although not simplistic terms. Jesus goes on to say
‘In my Father’s house there are many rooms, if it were not so I would have told you, I go to prepare a place for you and if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and take you to be with me’

The reading in the AV uses the phrase. ‘In my father’s house there many mansions’ Mansions is a lovely word, it comes to us from Tyndale’s translation of monai, it means 'dwelling places'. It is always difficult for us to read scripture because we do so through layers and layers of interpretation which have conditioned us to understand certain things about what we read. This is true in the passage today. We hear the words of Jesus ‘In my Father’s house’ and most of us jump immediately to thinking that Jesus is speaking about heaven. It is important for us to try and put ourselves right back to the occasion when Jesus spoke those words.

Can you think when was the first time in John’s Gospel when Jesus used the words ‘Father’s house’? .
The answer is in Chapter 2:16, Jesus attacks the traders in the Temple and he says
‘How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!’
The disciples would have heard the phrase "God's House" used over and over again in the Scriptures to refer to the Temple in Jerusalem. The words would have brought to mind the place where God's name is to be worshiped and praised. God’s 'house' was the place where God’s presence dwells among his people. It's the place where the heavenly realm and the earthly realm (the heavens and the earth) meet together. The point to be made here is that Jesus is doing more than just promising his disciples that there will be space for them in heaven ! Jesus is speaking about a new order, a new world, a time and place when there will be room for everyone.

So Jesus prepares the disciples for the fact that he will be going away, yet he makes it clear that it is all a part of God’s wider purpose to change things for the good. His death will be something which brings clear benefits, he is not abandoning them, rather he is going to prepare a place for them. Quite explicitly, there is no reason to give up hope at all, even when the world seems hopeless, Jesus is preparing a new order of things.

As a result of the questioning of Thomas Jesus goes on to say
‘I am the the way, the truth and life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’

These are words of comfort and reassurance to desperate disciples. However, they have become the source of much disagreement in the church. The point made is that if Jesus is the only way to come to the Father, then all other ways must lead to destruction! The words of reassurance to the disciples therefore become a statement of exclusivity and exclusion intended to strike fear into the hearts of followers of other religions. Unless we follow Jesus we are not following the way.

Whilst we all recognise that Christians can learn much from other religions it would be foolish for us to pretend that Jesus is just a way to God like many others. The idea that all faiths are just different roads up the mountain to reach the summit is contrary to the very special claims made by Jesus about himself. In calling himself God, Jesus is as much the mountain himself! However condemning all who do not ascribe to faith in Jesus to the tortures of hell is not a necessary conclusion. Universalists believe that everyone is "saved." Christian history is punctuated with the names of many who held such a theological position, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Clement of Alexandria, Basil the Great, St. Gregory of Naziansus, on down to Teilhard de Chardin, Jacque Ellul, Jurgen Moltmann, and Paul Tillich in the modern age.

There is some breadth of Biblical support for the idea which gives hope that the new order of things which Jesus seeks to bring about is more successful in the breadth of its embrace. It is worth looking at some of these passages which some believe demonstrate that Jesus and his disciples believed salvation was something brought to all creation

  1. Through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things. (Colossians 1: 19)
  2. When I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all men to myself (John 12:32)
  3. To bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. (Ephesians 1:10)
  4. God so loved the world (cosmos) that he gave his only Son (John 3: 16)
  5. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. (1 Timothy 2:3-6)
  6. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter3:9)
  7. If anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.  He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)
  8. Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.  Peter (Acts 3:21).
  9. You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’ (Romans 14:11)
  10. Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10)

Exactly how the universal love of God and the particularity of Jesus fit together isn't clear. Christians struggle with such things as whether Gandhi in hell because he wasn't Christian. C.S Lewis said

'It is clearly unfair that this new life should be confined to people who have heard of Christ and been able to believe in Him. But the truth is God has not told us what His arrangements about the other people are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him'.

This point is often used when appealing for the salvation of people who lived before the time of Christ, adults with severely limited cognitive abilities, babies and children who die young, and people today who have no reasonable opportunity to hear the Gospel — they are saved by Christ even though they can't call upon Christ.

There is much that we simply do not understand and I prefer to leave God to decide how to exercise judgement. Saint Augustine advised that we should do our best to seek answers to difficult questions. Having done that, he said we should "rest patiently in unknowing."

However what is clear to us is that in the passage today Jesus seeks to reassure his disciples of his ability to save. Jesus is speaking in terms of reassurance to specific individual, he might as easliy have said 'none of you.' There is no imperative to read into his words a doctrinal exclusivity. He is not telling his disciples what will happen to faithful Muslims, Hindus, Bhuddists or indeed to the majority of people who have never heard the Christian Gospel. Jesus is talking to his Jewish followers and re-assuring these faithful disciples. We too are saved by Jesus, not by ourselves and our beliefs. Jesus Christ is the way – his path is the way to wholeness, salvation, and shalom—and this graceful and forgiving path may surprise all of us.

Hear the passage today and hear the words of comfort that Jesus speaks. His words are meant to reach out to us in whatever kind of distress we might find ourselves and speak reassurance. When Jesus says, 'I am the way the truth and the life and nobody comes to the Father but by me', he is effectively saying that he has the authority to save whoever he likes. Jesus is not making a statement about who cannot get in, he is rather making a commitment that he is able to pull off what he is promising to dispirited disciples who have a terrible couple of weeks ahead of them. There is nothing of which we need be afraid. Just like the disciples we can find that our fears and disappointments can be trusted to Jesus.

Meditation

Follow thou me. I am the way and the truth and the life. Without the way there is no going, without the truth there is no knowing; without the life there is no living. I am the way which thou must follow; the truth which thou must believe; the life for which thou must hope. I am the inviolable way; the infallible truth, the never-ending life. I am the straightest way; the sovereign truth; life true, life blessed, life uncreated. Thomas a Kempis

The gospel of Jesus is not simply a "personal interior message or experience" which changes the way we feel. Genuine belief leads to works. Spirituality is connected to action. As Jesus says in today's gospel, "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these." The work of the gospel is reflected in the concern of the early church for the poor. In today's example from Acts, it is reflected in a concern for the widows in the community. The work of the gospel is about service and especially service to those who are most in need. It is a responsibility of the whole community - not just a responsibility for the apostles. This is important, for we desire to offer more than charity to respond to some immediate need but to create structures of justice that empower all people.
We might also think of the vision of Jesus as speaking to our world here and now. Might not Jesus envision a world where all God's people have decent, safe, and affordable housing here today? Might not Jesus envision a world in which all men and women enjoy a sense of belonging and community wherever they live? Is this not what the early community is trying to create as they appoint deacons to make sure that everyone is included in the resources of the whole? Is this not what we all want to be about?

Every citizen also has the responsibility to work to secure justice and human rights through an organized social response. US Bishops, Economic Justice for All (#120)
 

It is in keeping with their dignity as persons that human being should take an active part in government.
Pope John XXIII, Peace on Earth (#73) (www.coc.org/focus/ej/reflections.htm)

Hymns

 

 

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

Prayers of Intercession

Response: May God lead us on the road to justice in the world.
For the poor of our world, especially those who are struggling because of rising food prices, we pray….
For those who are suffering because of recent natural disasters, like the floods along the Mississippi, the tornados in the south, and the earthquake in Japan, we pray….
For those who are suffering because of the lack of jobs that pay a living wage, we pray….
For the billions of people around our world who still struggle to live on less than two dollars a day, we pray….
For those in our world who live in places where war is waging, we pray….
For our planet which continues to suffer from our misuse and abuse, we pray….

 


Earth Day was Friday, April 22. Some congregations recognize this as Earth Day Sunday. Below is one prayer to use to celebrate Earth Day and links to some Earth Day prayers and prayer resources.

O God, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen:
You place us in your creation, and you command us to care for it.
Your works declare glory and splendor, and you call us to praise and reverence.
Where we have degraded or destroyed earth's bounty, forgive us.
Where we have taken beauty and majesty for granted, have mercy upon us.
Where we have become estranged from the creatures with whom we share this planet, grant us your peace.
Renew us in the waters of baptism, refresh us with the winds of your spirit, and sustain us with the bread of life. In the name of Jesus Christ, and for the sake of the new creation, we pray. Amen.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the privilege of exercising our right to vote in a free election in a democratic society; we praise you for those of this nation who have gone before us through whose campaigning zeal and personal sacrifice we enjoy universal adult suffrage. We ask you for grace to use the privilege of our vote responsibly and in accordance with a well-formed conscience and the good news proclaimed by your Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

O God, who from of old taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgement in all things and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour. Amen

GRANT us, Lord God, a vision of our land as your love would make it: - a land where the weak are protected, and none go hungry or poor;- a land where the benefits of civilized life are shared, and every one can enjoy them; - a land where different races and cultures live in tolerance and mutual respect; - a land where peace is built with justice, and justice is guided by love. And give us the inspiration and courage to build it. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


 

Additional Material

Opening Verse of Scripture—John 14:16

Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. no one comes to the Father except through me.'

Collect Prayer for the Day

Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ have overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: grant that, as by your grace going before us you put into our minds good desires, so by your continual help we may bring them to good effect; through Jesus Christ our risen Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Psalm 31:1-5,15-16

In you, 0 Lord, have I taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness. Incline your ear to me; make haste to deliver me. Be my strong rock, a fortress to save me, for you are my rock and my stronghold; guide me, and lead me for your name's sake. Take me out of the net that they have laid secretly for me, for you are my strength. Into your hands I commend my spirit, for you have redeemed me, 0 Lord God of truth. 'My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me. 'Make your face to shine upon your servant, and save me for your mercy's sake.'

First Bible Reading Acts 7:55-60

Standing before the high priest and the council, Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 'Look,' he said, 'I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!' But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.' Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them.' When he had said this, he died.

Second Bible Reading John 14:1-14

Jesus said to his disciples: 'Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.' 

Thomas said to him, 'Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?' 

Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.' 

Philip said to him, 'Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.' 

Jesus said to him, 'Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, "Show us the Father"? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.'

Post Communion Prayer

Eternal God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life: grant us to walk in his way, to rejoice in his truth, and to share his risen life; who is alive and reigns, now and for ever. Amen

Commentary: Believe and Trust

Judas Iscariot has left to do his deed. Jesus now prepares his disciples for his departure. The passage from John has comforted many mourners at funerals over the years and remains a source of strength and hope even for those who profess little faith. However, it does not stand alone in its context, but forms part of Jesus' parting words to his disciples which began earlier in John 13 v 31. There Jesus announced his return to the Father's glory and goes on to explain that he was going somewhere where the disciples could not follow him (at least, not for now). Peter, missing the point, insists he will follow and will even lay down his life to do so. Jesus knows what Peter does not: one day he, too, will be killed. The conversation continues in chapter 14 where Jesus says more about his departure and the disciples take it in turn to ask rather naive questions, right through until the end of the chapter.

In the ancient world a person's last words were always very special. Biographers would take great care to ensure they contained the most important things which future generations should learn. Deuteronomy, as Moses' last words, fits this category, as do the Testaments of the 12 Patriarchs and many other such writings in the Jewish and Christian world. This is also why people have found in these chapters of John a rich treasury for their faith. 

Jesus' last words here, remind us that He and the Father are one, and in Him we too have a place in that relationship, which is eternal and will never end. The disciples were confused by this but the response of Jesus is wonderfully simple: believe in God! believe also in me. 

Trust in God. Sometimes we can over complicate the word of God and our Christian life. Sometimes we too don't quite understand what's happening or what is going on around us and our response becomes like that of the disciples - we're confused. God's answer is the same to us. Believe in God and trust in Him. 

We are to trust in Him and believe in Him, because Jesus then makes the extraordinary claim that we will do greater things then He has. Equipped with the power of the Spirit to speak His word and do His will far beyond Galilee, Judea and the entire Roman world. 

'I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.' is not a blank cheque for our every whim and fancy, but a promise about help for the mission so that the Father may be glorified. 
The Reverend Dr Sam Cappleman

Meditation

It is important before we look at the passage today, to think about what has taken place which produces the words which Jesus speaks in Chapter 14. In John 13:33, Jesus has said that he is about to leave the disciples. Can you imagine how the disciples would be feeling? Facing the departure of their Lord they are going to be worried. The scene is one of anxiety, indeed Jesus himself uses the word orphans to describe them. The disciples had expected that they would be following Jesus until he established his reign and they would share in that. A future without Jesus was a shattering thought. It gets worse, Jesus tells Peter that he will deny him, not once but three times. This was truly dreadful, not just for Peter but for all the disciples. Peter was not a bad disciple, quite the opposite. The disciples would know that if Peter denied Jesus, then there was no hope for any of them.
Perhaps, in the light of such events to come we can understand the words of Jesus

‘Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.’

Jesus encourages the disciples to move from their fear to faith. Jesus makes it clear that the disciples must believe. And that belief must be not be because of circumstances, but in spite of them. Worry is to loose its power because the human spirit trusts in the one who has the destiny of the whole world in his hands.

This is what Paul meant when he spoke these words in Romans Chapter 8:31

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Worry looses its power when we are in the presence of Jesus. The answer to anxiety and troubled spirits is to trust. To the disciples, what is about to unfold is a disaster. However, Jesus realises that the events which will take place are necessary, not a disaster. John 14 and Romans Chapter 8 are both readings which we use at funeral services because they encourage us to trust in God at the most dreadful time any of us can find ourselves, in the presence of death itself.

Jesus is going to die, he will not be around, the disciples will be left like orphans. But Jesus wants to reassure the disciples that they cannot be separated from him even by death. Jesus tells the disciples that he is not abandoning them, rather he is going to prepare a place for them.

The reading in the AV uses the phrase. ‘In my father’s house there many mansions’
Mansions is a lovely word, it comes to us from Tyndale’s translation of monai, but it means dwelling places. We could think of it as ‘in my Fathers house there are many rooms,’ Jesus goes on to speak of himself as 'the way, the truth and life.' These are words of comfort and reassurance to desperate disciples. However, it is interesting that from being words of assurance and comfort to his disciples, very often, these words are used by people inside the church as a means of making other people feel uncomfortable. They are used as a statement of exclusivity and exclusion, to make the point that unless we follow Jesus we are not following the way.

Of course Jesus is not a way to God like many others, he is God. Jesus is also truth, but Christians themselves disagree over what truth is and we must never be arrogant and assume that there is little which we can learn from those who do not share our faith. The words of Jesus perhaps mean the opposite to Christian exclusivism. Jesus tries to convince the disciples, and us, of his ability to save us. We are saved by Jesus, not by ourselves and our beliefs. Jesus Christ is the way – his path is the way to wholeness, salvation, and shalom—and this graceful and forgiving path may surprise all of us.

Hear the passage today and hear the words of comfort that Jesus speaks. His words are meant to reach out to us in whatever kind of distress we might find ourselves and speak reassurance. There is nothing of which we need be afraid. Just like the disciples we can find that our fears and disappointments can be trusted to Jesus. Charles Royden

 

Mapmaker and Guide

God not only shows us the route, He walks with us every step of the way.

Hymns

  1. Stand up and bless the Lord
  2. He brought me into his banqueting house
  3. Lord of the cross of shame
  4. Name of all majesty
  5. Christ is made the sure foundation
  6. esus shall reign Truro
  7. All I once held dear
  8. He who would valiant be (Tune Monks Gate)
  9. King of glory (Tune Gwalchmai)
  10. Lord of creation (Tune Slane)

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead.

Blessed are you, God our Father, who calls us to dwell with you in heaven. Hear the prayers we offer this day, and draw your holy people to your side. Glory to you for ever and ever. Amen 

Eternal god, in whom is all our hope in life, in death and in all eternity; grant that, rejoicing in the eternal life which is ours in Christ, we may face whatever the future holds in store for us calm and unafraid, always confident that nether death nor life can part us from your love in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen 

We pray for those involved in the industrial and commercial life of our nation. Remove barriers of mistrust, bitterness, prejudice which sometimes exist. Help us not to undermine and belittle others by speaking badly of them or criticising them in an unjust manner. Give to all a spirit of tolerance and understanding, and an earnest desire to seek after you, that all may work for the common good. Amen 

The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the eternal covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen

 

Hymn 'All I once held dear'

1 All I once held dear,
Built my life upon,
All this world reveres,
And wars to own,
All I once thought gain
I have counted loss;
Spent and worthless now,
Compared to this.
Knowing You, Jesus,
knowing You,
there is no greater thing.
You're my all, You're the best,
You're my joy, my righteousness,
and I love You, Lord.

2 Now my heart's desire
Is to know You more,
To be found in You
And known as Yours.
To possess by faith
What I could not earn,
All-surpassing gift
Of righteousness.
Chorus

3 Oh, to know the power
Of Your risen life,
And to know You in
Your sufferings.
To become like You
In Your death, my Lord,
So with You to live
And never die.
Chorus

Graham Kendrick (born 1950)