Be joyful today because God has told us a little of the mystery – as we repent and believe in Jesus Christ, we will come to share in His resurrection. Death will have no sting because it has been swallowed up in the victory of the resurrection and the life everlasting. Amen.
What’s in a name?
I wonder if you like your name. A lot of thought goes into the name parents give a new born child.
I’d love to know how many names Alex and Adam went through before deciding on the name for their new arrival, Mia!
All names carry meaning, and always the meaning is personal. Sometimes the meaning is obvious too:
Angel. Hope. Gifty. Grace.
My journey of faith in Jesus Christ began with my parents. As a child they spoke often of Jesus’ love, and they said their love for one another came from Him. It was Jesus who inspired them, and guided them. So one night, when I was about 6, before bed I prayed that Jesus would become ‘boss’ of my life too, just as he was their ‘boss’. I wanted the love and kindness of Jesus to live in me too.
Sometimes I wonder if we reflect as much as we should in our worship on the humanity of Jesus, as distinct from His divinity. Our reading from Hebrews explains the importance of that humanity. Because Jesus became like us in every respect, he judges as a merciful high priest who understands precisely the contexts of our actions. And as the writer of Hebrews puts it, “Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested”.
St John, whose feast we celebrate today, gave the church the gift of his Gospel. It’s a powerful and moving book of Jesus’ life: “the Word of God made flesh”. In church tradition, each of the four gospels has a creature associated with it and for John, it’s an eagle. Eagles soar, gracefully, high above the land. John’s writing is similarly graceful and poetic.
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight” ’,
That, I believe, is what God wants to offer each one of us as God calls us out of fear, and deeper into trust and discipleship. Let’s be honest, there are real risks to following God and obeying his calling – risks of uncertainty and sacrifice and it can be frustrating trying to listen to God in prayer, and making time to read and understand the Bible, and making time for Church and serving our brothers and sisters
So what might mission mean for us? The options are endless. It might include something active and direct, like a role in church, helping at a night shelter, visiting the sick or the lonely, or volunteering at a food bank. But it might also be something less obvious, like some simple words of comfort to someone who is fearful.
Today we’ve jumped forward thirty years in a week and we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus. Mark’s Gospel, which we heard this morning, begins with the Baptism with very little preamble. In fact, all four Gospels mention this important event.
Our ideas of kingship are sometimes unhelpfully skewed because human power and authority can mislead us: If we think of world leaders today, presidents and politicians, we might think kingship is about ego; hiring people who agree with us and firing those who don’t; pushing our own agenda for our friends and having the freedom to say and do whatever we want. This is the opposite kind of leadership which Jesus has over our world. His Kingship is the upside-down logic of God: where all are welcome, the meek are blessed, the poor are fed and the homeless find home.