I write this while watching the coronation and scoffing scones and jam. It is a legal requirement on such occasions, so I am led to believe. (You’ll note I have gone all-inclusive on the jam-first-or-cream dilemma.)
Below, a reflection on this week’s psalm, your liturgy resources as always, and a slightly mad-cap sketch about our adoption as children of God. Video and script included.
Links for John 14
- Together Apart – printable intergen resource pack on ‘Another Comforter’
- Reflection on ‘Another Advocate’ and the role of the Holy Spirit
- Discussion of Love, Obedience, and the Spirit as ‘another Helper’ in John 14 from Psephizo
Many blessings upon you, those you love, and all about to undertake exams. Remember to RTFQ – Read The Flippin’ Question!
I will come into your house with burnt offerings; I will pay you my vows, those that my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
It’s one of the things we all do. We make bargains. It might be trivial: I’ll get the biscuits if you make the tea. Or it might be earth-rendingly huge. “Make Mummy get better and I’ll be good, I promise.”
Bargaining is one of the ‘Five Stages of Grief’ described by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. You’ve probably heard of them. The death of a loved one, impending trauma or other devastating life-change is greeted first by denial, “This can’t be happening. It must be a mistake.” Next, anger: “Why me? It’s not fair!” After that comes bargaining. “If I had done things differently, maybe they would still be here.” When that fails, depression may set in. “I am empty inside. Nothing matters anymore.” Then finally, and this may be a long time coming, acceptance. “I can’t change it, but I can remember and honour them.”
In this psalm, the writer has been bargaining with God. He made vows when he was in trouble. We don’t know exactly what sort of trouble, but it was bad. “For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.” Silver is tested in a blazing fire which burns off all the crud. Eight hundred degrees or more. That sounds like pretty dire trouble. “You let people ride over our heads. We went through fire and through water.” They’ve really been through the mill.
And yet there is hope. Going through the mill means there is another side, beyond the mill. The psalmist ends his prayer with “Blessed be God, because he has not removed his steadfast love from me.”
Being a Christian does not mean that we never suffer trouble. Christians are diagnosed with diseases at the usual rate. We suffer just as many redundancies, and our loved ones die at the rate of one death per person, just like everyone else. But there is hope. There is always hope.
In Greek mythology, when Pandora had opened the box and unleashed pain, sickness and death into the world, there remained, in a corner of the box, hope. For the Christian, this hope is seen throughout the Bible and ultimately made real in Jesus.
If you are somewhere along the journey of grief, and grief is the companion of joy when you love someone, take heart. There is hope. It will end. God’s steadfast love will never be removed and that is a plank you can cling to when your world has been shipwrecked, a rock-cleft to hide in when the storm swirls around you. And sometimes, that’s all we need. Just for the moment.
Hares of God (Romans 8:17)
Hares of God– printable PDF Click to download
Liturgy Resources for the Sixth Sunday in Easter
Psalm 66:8-20, John 14:15-21
Confession and Absolution
Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
We confess, O Lord, that we have failed to keep your commands.
Restore us, we pray.
Jesus said, ” I will ask the Father, and he will give you the Spirit of truth to be with you forever.
We confess, O Lord, that we have not acted as those who have your Spirit.
Restore us, we pray.
Jesus said, ” because I live, you also will live.”
We confess, O Lord, that we have not lived your resurrection life.
Restore us, we pray.
May the God of all mercy , who forgives all who truly repent,
cleanse and restore us, and so fill us with his Spirit
that the life of Jesus overflows to all around us.
Blessing and Dismissal
May you see Jesus, the one who does not leave you.
May you know the Father who loves you.
May you be filled with the Holy Spirit, who is with you for ever.
And the blessing of God, Father, Son and Spirit,
be upon you and those you love
this day and always.
Go in God’s strength
to live in love and peace.