Reflection, Sunday 24th May 2020, John 17.1-11 By Revd Adrian Jones
I hope and trust that you’re still keeping well now that we’re entering the tenth week of our ‘lockdown’.
Two things in particular will stay with me when we get to ‘the other side’. The first is the opportunity that many of us have had to be closer and more connected to the natural world….to hear birdsong more clearly, to appreciate our gardens.
The second is the ingenuity and creativity that lies innate in all of us and has had the chance to bubble up while we’ve been so much less busy (with apologies to key workers who have been so exceptionally busy on our behalf!). This creativity has shown itself in many ways, from the boom in home baking, to jokes and photographs on social media, to facemasks fashioned at home from scraps of material.
Significantly there has also been a recognition that now we need creative thinking as we start to look ahead…. not to a return to the life we knew before but to a ‘new normal’ where social distancing and a raft of health precautions will shape our Christian life together.
In our Gospel reading Jesus stirs us into new creative thinking about our life as the church in ‘the new normal’.
In the first three verses, Jesus clearly understands that his mission was to glorify God and make God known in the world. How can we keep our focus on this primary purpose as the church? – to glorify God and make him known in the world?
We will only be able to meet together under difficult restrictions, but we have to remember that the point of our meeting is firstly to worship and glorify God, not as the branch of a social club. And to make God known in the world we will need to remember that our every conversation with our friends and neighbours carries a message about what is really important to us – is it self-focussed regret or God’s loving care and purposes for us all?
In verse 6, Jesus shows he understands that the people he met, the people whose lives touched his, were each given to him by God. How will we respond in ‘the new normal’ to the people who are God’s gift to us?
Are we ready to listen, to support, to encourage, to pray? To weep with those who weep and struggle with those who struggle? And at the same time can we recognise and nurture joy and hope when they spring forth anew? Each person is God’s gift to us – and therefore infinitely precious and worthy of our time and care.
And then in verse 7, Jesus recognises that everything he was given in this world was given to him by God. Can we hold on to the truth that the church itself – the buildings, the money, the community of people – is given to us by God? It doesn’t belong to us and God has a bigger purpose for the church than our own small ideas. Let’s take this opportunity to let go of our possessive and controlling tendencies, and instead be more thankful, generous and outward looking as a church.
Jesus prays for us…. let’s pray for each other as well. Let’s pray that we might be people of worship, people who share God’s love with others, people who value other people, people whose life together as the church is a message of hope to the world.