Reflection for Tuesday 4th May 2021

Jon Ellis

Click here to read the Reflection

READING John 14:27-31

Message version: John 14:27-31
“I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.
“You’ve heard me tell you, ‘I’m going away, and I’m coming back.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I’m on my way to the Father because the Father is the goal and purpose of my life.
“I’ve told you this ahead of time, before it happens, so that when it does happen, the confirmation will deepen your belief in me. I’ll not be talking with you much more like this because the chief of this godless world is about to attack. But don’t worry—he has nothing on me, no claim on me. But so the world might know how thoroughly I love the Father, I am carrying out my Father’s instructions right down to the last detail. “Get up. Let’s go. It’s time to leave here.”

REFLECTION
This scene in John 14 reminds me of the ones in war films. Set in a railway station with the soldier on the train talking through the window in the door. He is talking to the girl or mother standing on the platform and they are saying goodbye. The soldier on the train assures her that he will be fine. He is coming back in three months after this tour of duty. She shouldn’t worry. It is usually a tearful scene and we are all thinking, I wonder if he will come back? Will he be killed on the battle field, will she be receiving a telegram to tell her the worst? Will there be a happy ending?”

In the passage today it is Jesus who is leaving the disciples. He is similarly reassuring. But this is the conversation before the scene on the train station. Jesus is telling them what is going to happen later. He is going to go away but he is definitely coming back. He gives them a gift. He gives them Peace. “Peace I leave with you” was a common thing to say when leaving. More than a goodbye, it was blessing. And in this case a very special blessing from Jesus, the Son of God, to them. They must have shown how alarmed they were that their leader to be leaving. They knew how dangerous it was to be a disciple of Jesus. How could they cope without him?

So Jesus explains that this is the master plan! God has a goal for him and they have a part to play. He tells them early so that they know how it is going to work. And when the plan comes to fruition it will be proof so that they can carry on spreading the Good News without Jesus.

We of course know how this works out. Jesus will die but he will rise again and come back to them at Pentecost. And this is the message for us too. When we have those doubts that Satan tempts us with that Jesus would leave us and not come back, this passage says, “Just hold a minute, Satan, Jesus told us that there is a plan.” He had to die for our sins and doubts, the times when we loose track of our walk with him, but he rose again to get us back on the straight and narrow path. We may not be able to actually see him walking in front of us, but he has left us his promised Holy Spirit to be with us every day.
V 27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (AV)

Jesus told us his master plan, stick with it!

COLLECT
Risen Christ,
your wounds declare your love for the world
and the wonder of your risen life:
give us compassion and courage
to risk ourselves for those we serve,
to the glory of God the Father. Amen

Reflection for Monday 3rd May 2021

The Rev’d Derek Arnold

Click here to read the Reflection

READING John 14.21-26
Jesus said,’ They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.’ Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine but is from the Father who sent me. I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.’

REFLECTION
How often do we think about the Holy Spirit, that great gift from the Father to us, which Jesus talks about in today’s Gospel? Jesus made a big promise that the Holy Spirit will teach and guide us in everything we do and say. But do we really rely on the Holy Spirit? Do we seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance in moments of difficulty, and I guess especially in matters of faith?

And Judas, not the one who betrayed Jesus, asks that question many of us thinking, ‘What’s all this about?’ He is puzzled, perhaps bewildered, because the words of Jesus are not making any sense to him. And several times in the John’s gospel we hear of people being put off by Jesus’ words, because they are just too obscure.

Because the disciples were still expecting Jesus to establish an earthly kingdom and overthrow Rome, I would imagine they found it hard to understand why Jesus did not tell the world at large that he was the Messiah. But I think that many of them wouldn’t have believed it and didn’t really understand his message. Ever since Pentecost, the gospel of the kingdom has been constantly proclaimed but not everyone has received it.

It is hardly surprising that Jesus’ invitation to share God’s life and work is hard to grasp, for Judas and for us. Learning and understanding take time. But Jesus also promised that we will not be left in a state of frustrating perplexity. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would help them remember what he had been teaching them.

Afterall the disciples were the eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life and teaching, and the Holy Spirit helped them remember without taking away their personal perspective on what they had witnessed and experienced, therefore I believe we can be confident that the gospels are accurate records of what Jesus taught and did.

Judas asks Jesus why he will not reveal himself to the world and Jesus answers because the world does not love God. And then predicts for the second time about the coming the Holy Spirit who will clarify what Jesus has said and in that way, will preserve the authenticity of the Christian community.
Keeping the commandments are all different ways of loving God, and being love to all, in all circumstances. I believe how we keep them is a gauge of whether we love God or not. Jesus said that his followers show their love for him by their obedience to his teaching.

Letting ourselves to be loved unconditionally is about letting God take up residence in us, allowing him to work through us. His presence in us will be revealed through the fruits of the Spirit, that is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Do we feel that sense of God working through and in us?

THE COLLECT
Risen Christ,
your wounds declare your love for the world
and the wonder of your risen life:
give us compassion and courage
to risk ourselves for those we serve,
to the glory of God the Father.

Reflection for Friday 30th April 2021

The Rev’d Derek Arnold

Click here to read the Reflection

READING John 14.1-6
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

REFLECTION
This is one of the most popular readings for a funeral and as you can imagine, it is one I am familiar with. So why do people think that this reading is so appropriate? Because God made us in such a way that we need relationships with one another and when that relationship is lost we feel pain, and it hurts.
And I think we can look to the words spoken in the reading from John’s gospel and find comfort. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
This led Thomas, known as doubting Thomas, to ask the question, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” And Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Therefore, even in the midst of the storm, even in the valley of the shadow of death there can be a peace that passes all understanding, because we know that God is with us. The 23rd Psalm tells us exactly the same thing. “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Believe and trust in Him and God will grant you his perfect peace.
But not only is he with us, but hey, what a wonderful thing, but he has also prepared a special for us. It says, “I go to prepare a place for you.” And what an incredible place that must be. Isn’t that a comforting thought for each and every one of us? He hasn’t just prepared a place for us, but he also prepared a way for us to get there.
Jesus tells us that, he is the way, the truth, and the life; and no one comes to the Father, except through him. We are all travellers on a road called life, and there are many detours, but we don’t need to be confused and we don’t need to get lost, we just need to follow Jesus Christ, and he will show us the way. In fact he is the way, he will lead, and guide us.
There is a song called ‘Mansion over the hilltop’ based on the reading from John. It has even been sung by Elvis and the fourth verse says, “I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop in that bright land where we’ll never grow old. And some day yonder, we’ll never more wander but walk on streets that are purest gold.”
I guess we need to ask ourselves. Do you see the mansion, it’s just over the hilltop? The lights are on and the door is open, there’s a meal prepared, your friends are inside and there is comfort.

THE COLLECT
Almighty God,
whose Son Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life:
raise us, who trust in him,
from the death of sin to the life of righteousness,
that we may seek those things which are above,
where he reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Reflection for Thursday 29th April 2021

Nigel Price

Click here to read the Reflection

The Festival of St Catherine of Siena
This being a lesser festival day, the reading is taken from the lectionary for the Common of the Saints; teachers of the faith and spiritual writers and I have chosen the following from Proverbs.
Proverbs 4:1-9 (NRSV)
Listen, children, to a father’s instruction,
and be attentive, that you may gain insight;
for I give you good precepts:
do not forsake my teaching.
When I was a son with my father,
tender, and my mother’s favourite,
he taught me, and said to me,
‘Let your heart hold fast my words;
keep my commandments, and live.
Get wisdom; get insight: do not forget, nor turn away
from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
love her, and she will guard you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
and whatever else you get, get insight.
Prize her highly, and she will exalt you;
she will honour you if you embrace her.
She will place on your head a fair garland;
she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.’

Reflection
These words are how St Benedict introduces his rule for monastic communities in the prologue, “Listen, carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart. This is advice from a father who loves you: welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice.”
Catherine was born in 1347, the 23rd of 25 children, so I should think her parents prayed very hard for all their children to listen to their instructions. It must have been a rather noisy upbringing.
Perhaps because of that, from a very early age Catherine wanted to lead a life of prayer and penance, refusing marriage, much to the dismay of her parents. But she was determined to lead a life of solitude and joined the Dominican order as a Tertiary – that is a lay volunteer – at the age of 16. She stayed three years before feeling a call to leave her seclusion and work for the poor.
As she cared for the sick, men and women gathered to follow her and the group soon became known for their desire for reform of the Church and to focus on the crucified Christ. As the calls for reform went unheeded, Catherine became more and more involved in the political life of the Church, acting as a peacemaker between Church and State when relationships deteriorated. In 1380 rival Popes were elected, but Catherine suffered a stroke and died before the split was resolved.
She had to dictate all her letters as she never learned to write and as well as letters she wrote a Dialogue explaining her beliefs and her sense of devotion to Christ crucified. The following is taken from that Dialogue.
“Eternal Trinity, you are a deep ocean, in which the more I seek, the more I find; and the more I find, the more I seek. You satisfy my soul, yet leave it hungry, for in your depths my satisfied soul desires you still more and yearns to see you, the Light, in your own light.”
We are constantly learning and I pray that in your own spiritual life you may find that same desire that possessed Catherine. St Benedict’s rule also includes the exhortation to “prefer nothing to Christ”. Hold that thought before you as you seek and find and then seek some more. So we pray:
Lord God,
You inflamed Saint Catherine with divine love
as she contemplated Christ’s Passion
and served your Church.
Hear her prayer
and grant that your people,
united together in the mystery of Christ,
may always rejoice at the manifestation of his glory.
This we ask of you. Amen

Reflection for Wednesday 28th April 2021

The Rev’d Derek Arnold

Click here to read the Reflection

DAILY REFLECTION 28 April 2021
Today’s reflection is by our Team Rector, Rev’d Derek Arnold and can be heard on the Website http://tcmc.church

READING John 12.44-50
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.

REFLECTION
I guess some of us wonder what God is like. But how can we know the creator when he doesn’t make himself visible. Well Jesus said plainly that those who see him see God, because he is God and if you want to know what God is like, study the person and words of Jesus Christ.
So what was Jesus like and how do we follow his example?

First Jesus represented God by his word and his action. As ambassadors for Christ, we must emulate Jesus in how he represented God in the world. And I guess the reason why the church has fallen out of touch with today’s society and lost its place of importance, is largely because we as God’s children are not very good representatives of who he is or what He stands for. And the world has a skewed opinion of God because of what they see in us!

Second, Jesus revealed that he came as the light in the darkness. So how does that relate to us? Well Jesus said that we are the light of the world. Because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we have the ability to shine and reveal God to the world. That is why it is said that every person needs to do their part in serving because as we do, each of us reveals another part of God to one another. Every day we have the opportunity to shine the light of God into the hearts of his people and a dark and at times, depressing world, but it is not our job to condemn or judge people.

And finally Jesus spoke the commands of God. He said only what the Father told him therefore his words are trustworthy and true. We too must respond to the world with the words of God. When we speak the words of God we have a promise that they will not return void!

We need to be able to rest in the words of God. When we are following and being obedient to his word, there is nothing that can come between us. But does that mean life will be easy? No it doesn’t, Jesus told us himself: that the world hated me and the world will hate you. You will have trials & tribulations but fear not for I have overcome the world.

And when we learn to rest on the promises of God, we will be able to endure anything life throws at us. Not because we are super human but because our God in whom we have placed our trust is big enough to take care of us. In the midst of crisis or jubilant times we can rest in the knowledge that God is sovereign, and that He knows what he is doing. It is really important that we don’t let him, because others and our eternal future is at stake.

THE COLLECT (alternative)
Risen Christ,
faithful shepherd of your Father’s sheep:
teach us to hear your voice
and to follow your command,
that all your people may be gathered into one flock,
to the glory of God the Father. Amen

Reflection for Tuesday 27th April 2021

Jon Ellis

Click here to read the Reflection

Reflection John 10:22-30
Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews gathered round him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me,
but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no-one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no-one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

REFLECTON

In the verses 19-22 before this reading, the Jews had been discussing why Jesus was saying and doing the things he was. Is he a madman, is he demon-possessed? But then, if he is, how come he can open the eyes of the blind? Jesus was a hot topic of discussion and many then spent fruitless time in trying to work out who Jesus was.

Some of them decided that the only answer was to find Jesus and ask him directly. It doesn’t look like this was a peaceful ambush. They demanded that he told them exactly who he was. The word used is “plainly”. They wanted a direct answer to their question, there and then, “are you the Christ?” Of course, this is a loaded question, because to admit that would be blasphemy.

Jesus, as always, uses his words carefully. If it had been us, then there would be exasperation in our voice, as we replied, “I’ve already told you! Why can’t you believe me?!” But Jesus replies that the miracles are the Father’s and they speak for themselves. They don’t need explaining, it’s as simple as that.

Then he says that the Jews don’t believe because they are not Jesus’ sheep. He doesn’t put them down by saying that they aren’t his followers because they don’t believe. He says that the fact they don’t believe is proof that they are not his followers.

That’s the difference when we believe, it not that we believe and just become followers. It is when we wholly follow, that we believe. God calls us to become true followers of Jesus. He gives us the promise of eternal life. Not just after our body dies, but straight away when our spiritual body dies. Our life is changed, we start our eternal life in Jesus. No one can take that away, said Jesus. That’s when we believe.

Jesus takes the final step and states clearly to them that he and the Father are one. Not the same person, but one in essence. So, what is their response? To come to faith in the risen Christ? Not likely. In verse 31, after today’s reading, their response is to pick up stones. Resorting to violence when they can’t see the truth. We see that on the TV instead of reasoned protest. But how many “stones” do we pick up rather than fully committing ourselves to Jesus?

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

COLLECT
Risen Christ,
faithful shepherd of your Father’s sheep:
teach us to hear your voice
and to follow your command,
that all your people may be gathered into one flock,
to the glory of God the Father. Amen

Reflection for Monday 26th April 2021

The Rev’d Penny Body

Click here to read the Reflection

Gospel Mark 13 verses 5 to 13
5 Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.
9 “You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.
11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
12 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13 Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Reflection
There’s a lot in our reading today. We have warnings to watch out for heretics and references to the end times and thus of the coming again of Jesus and dawn of the new age. There is the persecution to be endured for standing up for Jesus and preaching the gospel, and the sadness of families pitted against each other for its sake.
The Gospel – the Good News – with – as we saw last week – its focus on believing in Jesus – the One sent by God – and its emphasis on being good news for the poor – with justice, mercy and freedom at its heart – was and is always going to irritate and even incite violence in those in power who have vested interests in the status quo for whatever reason. But it also saves lives, changes minds and the courses of history.
Being a Christian is not always an easy path and is often costly – even to the point of death. Yet those who walk in this way are following in the way of Jesus himself who suffered persecution, torture and death, for our sake.
The Christians Jesus is speaking of have unequivocally nailed their colours to the mast and declared their allegiance to Jesus Christ their Lord, all that he stands for, and all that he preaches. They stand under Jesus’s banner and are prepared to be prosecuted, persecuted to and to suffer dreadfully for the sake of the gospel. They are prepared to be hated, even by their own families, for their faith.
And yet – they are never alone. Through his resurrection Jesus walks with them – and us. And in their direst need, they are not to worry about what to say because the Holy Spirit will be with them, and will give them the words to say. And they can know that at the end of all their trials they will be saved. Jesus will come – there will be a new heaven and a new earth – all mourning and tears will be wiped away.
In our own time there is still a great need for speaking truth to power for the sake of justice for the poor and the oppressed, of reducing inequality of health care among the nations, particularly as we have seen in the great suffering in India this past week, of addressing self interest in so many forms as it impinges on our ability to tackle climate change and so much more. And of course it’s not only the church who speaks in this way.
We can think of the democracy activists demonstrating and suffering now in Hong Kong, Myanmar and Russia – and so many men, women and children over the years including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Malala Yousafzai, Rosa Parks, Oscar Romero – to name but a very few. And many of these have been and still are persecuted, imprisoned and even killed because of their challenge of the established order.
None of us knows how we will each react when placed under huge stress and trial. But I think the example of all those who have gone before us, in early Christians times, and more recently, can give us courage to speak out when we see injustice, to stand alongside others who are fighting for basic rights and freedom from oppression and to play our part in preaching the gospel to all nations.
And like them, as we stand under Jesus’s banner, we can know too that we are not alone – Jesus through his Holy Spirit is always with us, guiding, protecting and giving us the words we need to speak – and we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.

The Collect for the Fourth Sunday of Easter
Risen Christ,
faithful shepherd of your Father’s sheep:
teach us to hear your voice
and to follow your command,
that all your people may be gathered into one flock,
to the glory of God the Father.
Amen.

Reflection for Friday 23rd April 2021

The Rev’d Derek Arnold

Click here to read the Reflection

READING John 15.18-21
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.

REFLECTION
Today we celebrate George, the Patron Saint of England, who was probably a soldier living in Palestine at the beginning of the 4th Century. Some say the story of him slaying a dragon may be due to him being mistaken for Perseus’s, who slayed a sea monster, which is a myth associated with Lydda, where George was martyr in about the year 304.

Sadly as I write this reflection we as a country are in a much stronger place in our fight against the pandemic but there are other countries who are suffering great losses and are still fighting and hoping to slay the mythical beast and we take a moment to remember, those who have sadly lost their lives in this pandemic.

I was dealt this passage last year and although it is only 3 verses, I always find it hard to comprehend and get my head around. I guess we need to realize that enduring those tough things in life is a normal part of the maturing process for all Christians. We need to remember that God is working his will in us, in ways that we often cannot see or appreciate at the time.

It seems to me that by hiding away from the difficult things we experience; we are in fact distancing ourselves from identifying with all aspects of Christ. As long as it is possible, think that enduring the bad stuff, as well as the good makes us better servants of Christ. Job said, “When I am tried I will come forth as gold.” We too need to have this optimistic outlook for the stresses that we may face as this will help us triumph through the most difficult of circumstances.

There are numerous examples of people throughout history who have endured persecution for the sake of Christ. In Hebrews 11.35-38 it says, “Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted, and mistreated. The world was not worthy of them.”

God used these great pioneers of the faith like Saint George to lay a trail for the rest of us to follow. Many great Christians were humble people who when attacked, did not retaliate in kind, but kept entrusting themselves to the Lord and his greater purposes. And we need to allow God to work through us regardless of whether we can fully understand all that is happening to us.

And I think that ties in perfectly with the command from Jesus to ‘Love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us’. Which I think is probably the most difficult of all the commandments given to us by Jesus, and yet that is what God calls us to do. Remember when Stephen prayed for those who were stoning him recorded in the book of Acts. This was not the act of a weak person, but rather one of strength that relies on God’s sufficient grace. (2 Cor. 12.9, 10)

THE COLLECT
God of hosts,
who so kindled the flame of love
in the heart of your servant George
that he bore witness to the risen Lord
by his life and by his death:
give us the same faith and power of love
that we who rejoice in his triumphs
may come to share with him the fullness of the resurrection;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Reflection for Thursday 22nd April 2021

Nigel Price

Click here to read the Reflection

John 6:44-51 (NIV)
At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
“Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

REFLECTION
The lectionary, for reasons perhaps known only to itself, stopped at verse 40 yesterday and starts four verses later at 44 today. But that removes all context from the story, so I have actually read from verse 41. At the beginning of the chapter we had the story of the feeding of the five thousand and we keep returning to this theme of bread. It is rather ironic that the Disciples, in the presence of the master breadmaker, Jesus, were so confused that all they could do was to strike up a conversation about the price of bread!
Moses also had found the Jews to be inveterate grumblers as he led them through the wilderness. Now they are doing the same in the presence of Jesus, but here in this passage we can discover the true reasons why they rejected him and hence rejected eternal life.
They judged by human values and standards, and noting that he was just a carpenter’s son could not fathom how he could be a special messenger from God. Have you ever made a snap judgement about someone from their appearance, only to find out later who they really were and be totally embarrassed? God has many messengers and we should never reject one because we do not care for the likes of him or her!
They argued with each other – isn’t it so easy to get taken up with our private arguments with people rather than thinking of the wider picture and in prayer submitting our decisions to God.
The Jews listened, but they did not learn – it takes real concentration to listen intently so that all is heard and absorbed. How often in conversations do we half listen, waiting for our opportunity to wade in again with our own opinions? Or listening and all the while being critical and resenting what we hear. The only way to listen to God is in absolute silence and with full concentration.
In Jeremiah 31.3 he hears God saying ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love and I have drawn you with loving kindness’. The Jews would not be drawn, but Jesus says no-one can come to me unless the Father draws him. And the word itself suggests that resistance – the question is which is the stronger, God’s pull or man’s resistance?
The contrast is given that their forefathers had been given manna for physical survival. Jesus now offers a living bread. Reject this and you die, accept it and you live forever. It is what you would call a ‘no-brainer’!

THE COLLECT (additional)
Risen Christ,
you filled your disciples with boldness and fresh hope:
strengthen us to proclaim your risen life
and fill us with your peace,
to the glory of God the Father. Amen

Reflection for Wednesday 21st April 2021

The Rev’d Roper Elks

Click here for the text of the reflection

Hello. I wonder if you know how to give up on something or when to give up on something. I’m not very good at giving up on things, particularly old cars. I don’t have an old car, but I’ve had a series of old cars in my life. And even when they go wrong, I see it just as another part of life’s experience, of learning how cars work as we get them repaired. Liz, my wife, isn’t so keen. When do we give up on things? When we give up on a relationship maybe that seems to be making no progress and is harmful to ourselves or to others. Will God ever give up on us? Now there’s a question, isn’t it? Will God ever have had enough with you and me? Well, let’s read this passage for today. It’s from John, chapter six, beginning verse thirty five.

Then Jesus declared, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me and whoever comes to me, I will never drive away, for I’ve come down from heaven not to do my will, but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent to me that I shall lose none of all those he has given me but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s world is that everyone who looks to the sun and believes in him shall have eternal life and I will raise them up at the last day.

So as I said, I don’t like giving up on things, I would prefer to mend things than to replace them. I guess eventually, though, I do have to give up on old cars, on old shirts and things that just eventually have no more use. And most normal people are far less tolerant than me and will replace something far sooner.

Now we tend to think that God is like us. It’s funny, isn’t it, because we are made in His image, not he in our image. But we tend to put it the other way around. We think that because we give up, God will give up on us. But that’s not true. That’s not what the scripture says. The Old Testament and particularly the Psalms, talk about God’s unending faithfulness. New every morning is God’s faithfulness and verse 37 of our passage says, one of the great promises that we could write down and put on our mirrors or in our cars or wherever else we want to look, in order to remind ourselves of this promise.

Let me read it to you. “Whoever comes to me, I will never drive away” John 6.37. “Whoever comes to me, I will never drive away”. What a wonderful promise that is for us to hold up.

You and I give up on other people. You and I often give up on ourselves, don’t we? We think of ourselves of no use at all to anyone. But God never throws us away. He never casts us out. Because He loves us and He has a purpose for us. Amen.

Our collect for today:

Risen Christ, you filled your disciples with the boldness of fresh hope. Strengthen us to proclaim your risen life and fill us with your peace to the glory of God, the Father. Amen.