Paxtonvic’s Blog

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Easter 5 – Alpha and Omega

Thoughts on the reading for Easter 5;

Acts 11 v 1 – 18

Revelation 21 v 1-6.

Gospel Reading   John 13:31-35

There is a hymn whose  words I really like but which I have rarely heard sung.

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy, like the wideness of the sea.:

written by the  Victorian hymn writer Frederick Faber

If we look at today’s readings then we can see that there is a pattern which can be found in the Bible which gives us an understanding of human salvation which gradually widens, until all people are included. Salvation is available for all.

In the reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Peter is defending himself against the Church in Jerusalem because he has baptised Gentiles and so has admitted them as members of the Church. The story of Cornelius, according to Acts 10, had marked a watershed in the life of the early Christian community. Before that, the members of the young Church had believed that belief in Jesus was simply one form of the Jewish faith, of which there were several forms or versions available at that time. Peter believed that God had told him that gentiles should also be admitted to the faith.

A little later, of course, Paul came on the scene and took an even more radical view of the implications for the whole human race on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The Church accepted Peter’s account and the community gave thanks for God’s ever-widening mercy, in that gentiles were to be admitted to full fellowship of Christ’s Church.

The Bible, therefore, marks the early stages of this development in Christian understanding, and also provides us with some means of establishing criteria by which we can work out what is compatible with faith in Jesus Christ. Here we can see the beginnings of the development of God’s purpose of human salvation. It started through the chosen people of Israel, continued through the Church, through all people who responded, sometimes in unknown and hidden ways, to the God who is revealed in Jesus Christ.

If we look at Psalm 148, then we find that the psalmist is calling upon the whole of creation to give thanks for the glory of God, especially in God’s commitment to the chosen people of Israel in ensuring that they came through their difficulties to glory after all their suffering. If we read Revelation chapter 21, then the image of ‘a new heaven and a new earth’ is one of a totally newly created world, in which there is nothing to cause harm and there is nothing to get in the way of us establishing a harmonious relationship with God. Here we have an image of God as being ‘all in all’, and all the world being in harmony with God, once the in-human and anti-human forces have been destroyed.

The same idea is to be found in today’s Gospel reading from John 13. Here, Jesus’ exclamation, ‘Now the Son of man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him’, comes after the gentiles have approached the disciples to see if they could meet with Jesus.

If we think about the Christian message, what does come through is a  desire, to unite the whole of humanity, so that everyone is pulling in the same direction – or to use a phrase currently in common phrase ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’. Perhaps this idea is significant because it can also be found in Jesus’ ‘new commandment’ which is that his disciples should love one another. The unity, which Jesus Christ desires and which is central to the Christian message and so to Christian preaching, is that we should be obedient to his message and should live as he lived – in love.

The longer I am in ministry, the more passionate I believe that Christ is  for all, certainly not just for church people, and that his spirit can be seen working through all sorts of people in all sorts of situations. May we be ever ready here in this little community to draw people, younger and older into the embrace of his love in all sorts of creative ways. Amen.

Revelation 21 v 1-6.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.”
(This is the word of the Lord — Thanks be to God)

May 1, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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