Here There and Everywhere
Sermon for Seventh Sunday of Easter – 16 May 2021 – St John the Baptist, Felixstowe
Text: 10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. 11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. (John 17v10-11)
God give you peace my sisters and brothers
In John’s Gospel the Last Supper was a long supper.
It doesn’t have the breaking of bread or sharing of wine that the other three do, in fact the food, apart from some relish-dipped bread, doesn’t get a mention, though there is a high likelihood that Lamb was on the menu as it was the time of the Passover.
The Supper begins with the washing of feet and then a series of discourses by Jesus about what is to happen in the next few days. One of which, known as Jesus’ High Priestly prayer, we have just read. It’s a little convoluted isn’t it? Especially if the Gospel reader is getting used to some new dentures it is read in the King James Version! That old time religion does sound grand and majestic but understanding it can be just a little bit challenging.
Southern Baptist Pastor Justin Taylor, with I suspect a touch of irony, says this, ‘Jesus’ “high priestly prayer” is only about 650 words. It takes only 3 minutes and 30 seconds to read it aloud. But it will take all eternity for us to fully understand it!’
My suspicion is that when John was writing this prayer he got to Chapter 15, the one about Jesus being the vine, and decided to sip a little oenological product with the effect that by the time he had made it to Chapter 17 he was just a tad loquacious!
What is needed is a simple word or two to pull the whole piece together.
I think The Beatles can help us out.
Here There and Everywhere – The Beatles
Knowing that love is to share
Each one believing that love never dies
Watching their eyes
And hoping I’m always there
I will be there, and everywhere
Here, there and everywhere
Or to put it in King James English ‘And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. (John 17v10)’.
The next few days in the life of Jesus and his disciples is going to be rocky. Betrayal, trial, crucifixion and death follow very quickly on from these words. Fear and grief and emptiness will grip the disciples. Then will come amazement, surprise and a disbelief that gives birth to faith. Their lives are about to be ‘Here, there and everywhere’.
So Jesus prays for them that they might know that whatever happens, whenever anything happens and wherever it happens ‘All mine are thine, and thine are mine’. Such love! Facing his own ghastly death, staring the weight of the sin of the whole world in the face, He turns to his frail fragile followers and says ‘I’ve got you’.
Over the coming years as their faith flourishes and the world is literally turned on its head, they will need to know that there is no place, no time, no occasion where God is not with them. ‘All mine are thine, and thine are mine’. Jesus loves them, and us, to death and back.
In one of the very early episodes of Call the Midwife Sister Mary Cynthia speaking at the service of taking Solemn Vows quotes Hildegard of Bingen, ‘God hugs you, God hugs you. You are encircled by the arms of the mystery of God’.
We worship a Here, There and Everywhere God whose only desire is to bring us closer to God’s own self and to each other. We need to hold on to this deep truth (Hildegard calls it ‘the arms of the mystery of God) because we too, like the disciples will find ourselves. ‘Here, There and Everywhere’.
This last year of Covid has taught us much about the dangers of doing things by and for ourselves – it remains a truism that the self-made man worships his maker – and when we forget that we are encircled by the arms of the mystery of God we fall. Jesus sees this danger within us so follows His words of ‘all mine are thine, and thine are mine’ with ‘Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.’
In this season between Ascension and Pentecost when (under the banner of Thy Kingdom Come) we are praying that those close to us would know the tender love of God more deeply, the biggest stumbling block to faith is disunity, disagreement and often downright calumny between Christians. It’s almost as if we want to believe that God is only Here, There and Everywhere for me! Sadly it is not just self-made men that worship their maker, churches all too often follow their example. There is a temptation to presume that because God loves me, God can only love people who act, think, and believe like me.
We want to know the comfort and love of God wherever we are and whatever circumstance we are in, but we also seem to want that same precious love to be limited. If God is Here, There and Everywhere, for us then God is Here, There and Everywhere for everyone.
It is for that reason that we can be bold enough to pray for our friends to come to know the love of God more deeply because they are already loved by God and encircled in God’s arms. Week in, week out in the eucharist we remind ourselves that ‘He offered his life for sinners and with a love stronger than death opened wide his arms on the cross’. The self-same love that embraces us, embraces those of other denominations, those of other faiths, and those of no faith. Yet more wonderfully that love embraces those whom we refuse to embrace and those who refuse to embrace us. Loving our enemies and praying for our persecutors becomes a little easier to live out when we realise that all of us are held in the same loving cuddle from God.
…and in doing this, in letting the love of God flow through us to every single person we meet, then will come true the prayer of Jesus that his joy would be complete in us.
God give you joy my sisters and brothers
[This blog ‘Here, There and Everywhere’ is copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2021 and may be reproduced without charge on condition that the source is acknowledged]
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John
Glory to you, O Lord.
6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.
8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. (John 17.6–19)
This is the Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.