Homily one

May 10th, 2020 by admin-su



A Hope and A Challenge, Easter 5-20, using Psalm 31 and John 14 1-14
That reading from John’s gospel is a very familiar one and is often heard at funerals because of the hope that it contains; Jesus going ahead to prepare a place for us.
Jesus is going to prepare a place for us, is a message that is given at many funerals of Christians.
It reminds me of a curate that I trained in a previous parish, setting out to conduct his first solo funerals.
He was asked to conduct a funeral, but the nearest family member of the deceased lived in Yorkshire, not being able to meet them face-to-face he had to make all the arrangements for the order of service by telephone, choosing hymns, the readings, name for those to be mentioned during prayers, and some information about the life of the deceased.
On this particular occasion Dan had written one of the readings incorrectly, he had written down: Psalm 14.1-6.
For those who are unfamiliar with that particular reading is starts out
“The fool says in his heart ‘there is no god”, he was somewhat taken aback, he asked me, “how am I going to preach on that, especially as the deceased was not a self confession believer!
Before tackling his question, I suggested he make a courteous call checking that all the information given thus far was correct and asking if they were satisfied with their choices.
Thank goodness he did, he realized should have written down JOHN 14.1-6. And not Psalm 14.1-6
That one mistake had quite an effect on him, not only did he double check everything before hand but he has since that day linked Psalm 14 and John 14 together.
In Johns Gospel Jesus is telling his disciples that he is going ahead to prepare a place for them so He would be with them forever.
What an amazing Promise, even if they didn’t fully understand it, it is an amazing promise and a promise made to all who believe and trust in him and an hope for each of us to cling to. But it is only a hope for the person of faith; it is meaningless to the ‘fool’ who says there is no god.
The Psalm, as with all the Psalms are written by someone who has a deep faith in God – no fool here.
He started off telling God that he claims refuge in His presence and then actually makes that commitment saying “Into your hands I commit my spirit” (Ps 31.5)
It is a reminder and a challenged for all of us who acknowledge that God is real should also make that commitment. But I believe that that commitment is not just a one off, I think it is a daily choice.
You may remember Joshua telling the People of Israel “choose today whom you will serve.” (Joshua 24.15)
For our faith to remain strong each day we must make that choice – how many times to we wake up and if were honest – God doesn’t always get chosen; sometimes I choose to serve ourselves instead.
Easy to do in challenging times. In times when we are worried about what is going on around us, about our circumstances, we get so focused on the day by day challenges, that it becomes more about ‘what I want’ ‘what I can do’ (or not is some cases) that God is not always as the fore of our mind and acknowledging our need and reliance on him gets somehow lost, or remains somewhere in the background.
Each day we should as Joshua says, ‘choose today’ –this day – “whom you will serve”
Making that conscious choice, we should place ourselves into his hands.
When we do that, then the hope provided by Jesus, as recorded by St. John, becomes our hope as well. And with the world in its current state we would do well to commit not only ourselves, but the whole situation into God’s hands because only his hands are big enough.
Today’s reading focus on A Hope and A Challenge.
We know where our hope lies And the challenge…
The challenge come in the final verse of our Gospel reading John 14 verse 14,
Jesus telling us “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
This statement is certainly hopeful but it can also be extremely challenging.
Why the challenge? Because often the prayers we have said in Jesus’ name have seemingly gone unanswered. Maybe it’s just me who finds this to be the case, but I don’t think so.
The psalmist certainly knows the truth about prayer. Often his prayers were answered and we hear him praising God saying things like “Praise the LORD! For he has heard my cry for mercy” (Psalm 28.6) But we also often hear the psalmist complaining about unanswered prayer saying things like “O LORD, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way?” (Psalm 13.1) Prayer can be challenging, especially when Jesus seems to tell us “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
Going back to the current world situation I have no doubt that countless prayers have been heard and answered favourably, much to the delight of those involved. But equally I have no doubt that countless prayers have seemingly been unanswered, much to the grief of those involved. And I fear that some who have experienced unanswered prayer in this time of extreme need may turn away from God.
So what do we do about this hope that can also be challenging?
 First of all we should choose every day to serve God and we should place ourselves, our friends, family, neighbours and community into his hands every day.
 Second we can do is take Jesus at his word; he tells us “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.”
In other words, trust Him. We don’t see things clearly, we see them through the filter of our problems which can distort things. St. Paul put it like this “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror.” (1 Cor 13.15)
But God sees the whole picture in perfect clarity, so let’s trust him.
 Thirdly keep on praying and a part of this has to do with trust as well. When a prayer seemingly is being ignored it’s OK to ask God why and how long will you ignore me. But alongside that be sure to praise and thank him for the many times he has answered you. The more we pray, the more we will see God’s goodness and the greater will be our trust in him. And trust in God is essential to surviving these current times.
So ignore those who the bible would call fools we encounter on the internet and social media who claim there is no god.
We know differently, we know the truth of his promise and the hope we all have. This hymn says it best: Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father, Morning by morning new mercies I see; all I have needed thy hand hath provided, great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me! AMEN