simple white fading png image

notre dame montreal


Sermon for after Easter

Sermon for Easter 5 The Reverend Canon Charles Royden

Easter 5 Sermon

In our reading from Revelation today the Apostle John says that he sees
‘a new heaven and a new earth’ 

The hope for a future age of peace ruled by God is a distinctive Jewish and Christian hope. The prophet Isaiah had also predicted a new heavens and a new earth in Is 65:17 he said

“See, I will create
    new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
    nor will they come to mind.

So this thinking of re building was not new and a  new Jerusalem was the centre of this, purified and renewed.  Even when Jerusalem was destroyed the Jews never gave up hope it was a daily prayer for them that God would restore Jerusalem.


Now some Christians have read the Book of Revelation and think that it is speaking about a time still to come in the future when God will wind everything up. If you think that Revelation is speaking about the future then you read verse 9 as

'Behold I will make all things new' - future tense.

Actually what John writes is this

‘Behold I make all things new ‘- present tense.

This is not a small matter of getting our tenses right, it has important implications for how we see God acting and how we should act. 

We are not waiting for God to do something in the future, God has already done something, he has already acted in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

The phrase ‘God will wipe away every tear from their eyes’ is not just a future promise but a present reality as we bring our grief to God. 

For the Christian death is a doorway into the presence of God. This had been the promise dreamed by the Old Testament prophets

Isaiah had also written

He will swallow up death in victory

and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces Isaiah 25:8

In his Revelation John had said

 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them;

So what does God dwelling with his people look like ?

Jesus gives us a picture of this in the passage from John’s Gospel 

Jesus gives some really important teaching to his disciples just before he dies.

Because we all have mobile phones, when disasters happen we have lots of footage of the events which we never used to see and we also have some tragic recordings of things which people say before they die. Thinking of the calls made to loves ones from the twin towers before they jumped from the building or were killed, same too of the Grenfell disaster. As people are confronted by their imminent death there is a clarity which cuts through all of the stuff which we allow to clutter our lives.

Frequently people ring their loved ones and their last words are to tell of their love for them. That is what matters love.

It is important then that today we have the words of Jesus to his disciples just before he dies and the words he speaks are not about sorting out any special credal statements but the imperative that his followers must love on another.

In fact they must do more than that, they must love one another 

‘as Jesus had loved them.’

If Jesus said to love him that would have been quite easy. Its easy to love Jesus because he doesn’t

  • Park his car outside my house
  • Or leave me annoying emails
  • Or fail to pay for a round at the pub
  • Or leave his dustbins out all week

Jesus I can get along with. But Jesus says love one another, that is how we express our love for him. Love the ones  who get on our nerves. And the love we must have is not just rubbing along. The teaching to love your neighbour had been around a long time, way back in the Old Testament, Jesus says that just loving is not enough.

Instead they have to love others as Jesus has first loved us. If they are going to love like Jesus then they have to have a depth of love which will be deep enough for them to be prepared to die for each other.

This is not Jesus almost on his death bed saying have a go at loving one another, this is Jesus basically throwing out years of religious laws and saying this is my one commandment. In other words it is not a choice, it is a command  !

What we are talking about here is a matter of obedience to Christ.

Now we have to be honest this is not something which most of use find easy. I have to love folks that I might find difficult because Jesus doesn't say love people down the road or people in Africa or anybody far away, he says love 'one another'.  It is so much easier to pronounce judgement on others than it is to love them. We can all find things to point the finger at in others they are lazy, too ambitious, untidy, speak funny, people I think are immoral, the list could be endless.

Time is running out for Jesus he hasn't got time for all that he just says love one another

Jesus says that this kind of loving behaviour will be transformative. If you can live like this, not judging others but loving them, then the impact will be so great that people will know that it is not your great idea it is mine. If we can do this one thing then we will have to buy more church chairs because people will see that here.

This is God making all things new, this is how we will build the new Jerusalem and everybody will want to live in a place like that.

Our example is Jesus, who gave us this meal to remember that he gave of his body and blood 

  • we must forgive one another as Jesus forgave even those who killed him
  • Watch out for the poor ones and the poorly ones
  • Comfort those who are sad but don't be miserable
  • take time out to happy with those who have cause to rejoice.
  • Give of yourselves and you will discover God inside you.

May God bless each one of us as we share with him in making all things new.