This is part one of Keith Finch's thoughts for Sunday 24th May 2020
Mighty God, we gather in humility to worship you.
Caring God, we bring to you our concerns.
Glorious God, we exalt your holy name.
Unite us – make us one in you,
that your love may strengthen and empower us.
Don’t they look alike!
Have you ever been to visit a new baby? Have you heard people say that the baby looks just like its mum (or dad, or brother, or sister)’? As we grow up, do people still identify characteristics of our family in us? Have you ever told someone they have similar characteristics to a member of their family? I wonder how people feel when they are told they look ‘just like their mum’, or that they have a similar mannerism to their dad, or that they sound just like someone else in their family. Has it happened to you – how did you feel? I wonder if, in a way, we are sometimes quietly happy that a son or daughter is seen to be a little bit like us, especially if the characteristic is a good one. And, even when we are not related, I wonder if we like to find similarities with people we admire, or love, or care about. Maybe this will come into today’s worship.
Gospel: John 17.1-11
“John’s Gospel does have a prayer offered by Jesus that resembles the anguish of the prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane in the Synoptics, but it is back in chapter 12 (12.27-36). This prayer has a quite different quality. Jesus looks up to heaven and says, ‘Glorify your Son.’ We often think of glory as dazzling light, the spiritual equivalent of some heavenly bling, but when the term is used in this passage several other meanings emerge. The crucifixion, for all its horror and darkness, will be the hour in which Jesus is glorified (v.1). Jesus has also glorified his Father by finishing the work he was sent to do (v.4). Jesus even says that he has been glorified in his disciples (v.10). Glory, like knowledge, is deeply relational and mutual: Jesus requests that the Father glorify the Son, so that the Son may glorify the Father. Glory is something to bestow on another, and knowledge is about knowing someone, not knowing something (vv.3, 6). The spirals of meaning in John’s Gospel take on their widest curve yet: right back to the prologue of the Gospel (John 1.1-3), and so back to before the time that the world itself existed. Jesus is not asking here for a return to a heavenly status quo where he can forget that the experiment of the incarnation ever happened; he is praying for a new situation of increased knowledge and glory, where his disciples are included in the relationship between Father and Son, caught up in this mutual giving of glory, like so many mirrors reflecting the eternal light.”