Armadale UCA

10th May 2020

`You know the way…`

Easter 5

Welcome and Grace

Opening Scripture

Ps. 31: 1-5, 15-16

In you, O Lord, I seek refuge;
do not let me ever be put to shame;

in your righteousness deliver me.

Incline your ear to me;
rescue me speedily.
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a strong fortress to save me.

You are indeed my rock and my fortress;
for your name’s sake lead me and guide me,
take me out of the net that is hidden for me,
for you are my refuge.

Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.

14 But I trust in you, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”

15 My times are in your hand;
deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.
16 Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your steadfast love.

Hymn 246

`Christ is the world`s light`

(Frederick Pratt Green)

https://youtu.be/UOv2dwLrYW4

Christ is the world’s light, Christ and none other;
Born in our darkness, he became our brother.
If we have seen him we have seen the Father:
Glory to God on high!

Christ is the world’s peace, Christ and none other;
No one can serve him and despise another.
Who else unites us one in God the Father?
Glory to God on high!

Christ is the world’s life, Christ and none other;
Sold once for silver, murdered here, our brother.
He who redeems us reigns with God the Father.
Glory to God on high!

Give God the glory, God and none other;
Give God the glory, Spirit, Son, and Father.
Give God the glory, God with us our brother;
Glory to God on high!

Prayer

Readings

Acts 7: 55-60 and John 14: 1-14

Acts 7:55-60 (NRSV)

55 But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” 57 But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. 58 Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 

60 Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he died. And Saul approved of their killing him.

John 14 (NRSV)

Jesus the Way to the Father

14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” 

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

Song

`O my soul arise and bless your maker`

(Stuart Townend)

https://youtu.be/R-3vCOdf0Ag

O My Soul, arise and bless your Maker,
For He is your Master and your Friend.
Slow to wrath but rich in tender mercy;
Worship the Saviour, Jesus.

King of grace, His love is overwhelming;
Bread of Life, He's all I'll ever need,
For His blood has purchased me forever:
Bought at the cross of Jesus.

And I will sing for all my days
Of heaven's love come down.
Each breath I take will speak His praise
Until He calls me home.

When I wake, I know that He is with me;
When I'm weak, I know that He is strong.
Though I fall, His arm is there to lean on:
Safe on the Rock of Jesus.

Stir in me the songs that You are singing;
Fill my gaze with things as yet unseen.
Give me faith to move in works of power,
Making me more like Jesus.

Then one day I'll see Him as He sees me,
Face to face, the Lover and the loved;
No more words, the longing will be over:
There with my precious Jesus.

Reflection

Reflection on Acts 7: 55-60 and John 14: 1-14

Today we read another of the `I am…` sayings of Jesus `I am the way, the truth and the life…`

It comes in an intense and involved discourse Jesus has with His disciples – two of them named - Thomas and Phillip: Thomas the doubter and Phillip, the evangelist. The two go well together.

This conversation is a prelude to Jesus` arrest, trial and eventual death. Jesus is preparing the disciples for His departure and here wants to reassure them that, whatever happens, their future is safe in His keeping, He can be trusted, and that, even if they are separated for a time, they will, in the end, be reunited with Him. One day they will again be together with Him.

The Gospel reading begins with comforting words from Jesus, words often read at the beginning of a funeral service. These timeless words continue to speak to us, and all who fear, grieve and suffer today, reassuring us, whatever we are going through, Jesus is making ready a place for us where we will ultimately be safe with Him; that all will be well…

Here are words to savour and treasure in every generation – and especially in these days.

Intriguingly Jesus tells them - `You know the way…` But the disciples don`t seem so sure. At least Thomas isn`t.

It had to be Thomas didn`t it? Thank God for Thomas and his demand for clarity! Thomas wants to understand what Jesus is talking about. He wants to have the facts laid out, spelled out, so he knows where he stands.

Isn`t that still true today? As Christians, as seekers after truth, aren`t we all trying to work out what Jesus meant then and means now? In this time of major upheaval and hiatus, aren`t we a little bit curious as to how things are going to work out? Where we`re all heading in this time of so much uncertainty and insecurity.

And isn`t that why congregating and worshipping together is so important to us? To listen and learn more about Jesus, from the Word, from His words, His life, His death and resurrection, from each other, through the sacraments and the tradition of the Church?

To understand our life and times? To find out where we`re going and how best to get there? To build up our faith and understanding of who Jesus is and what He came to show us and the whole world?

`You know the way…` What way? The way to where?

Thomas doesn`t understand. And he is not alone. He is brave to ask. We need to be similarly brave to ask.

What are some of the questions you have for Jesus? About this time now? About the coming time? About the time beyond time?

Jesus is unequivocal when He declares that He is the way, the truth, the life; that He is the way to the Father. (Ironically we read this on Mother`s Day!) If we want to know God as our Father, then we must get to know Jesus. This is the only way to know God like that – intimately, personally. There is no other way. And this way is in no way exclusive. This is open to all.

And the way to know Jesus is to follow Him – not simply to admire Him, but to follow Him. Ask Stephen…because the way that Jesus takes is the way of the cross.

Jesus - the way, the truth and the life.

As the old chorus has it: `Without the way there is no going. Without the truth there is no knowing. Without the life there is no living. `I am the way the truth and the life` that`s what Jesus said.`

What do you think?

Q and A

Prayer and the Lord`s Prayer

Hymn 580

`Lead us heavenly Father lead us`

Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us
o'er the world's tempestuous sea;
guard us, guide us, keep us, feed us,
for we have no help but thee;
yet possessing every blessing,
if our God our Father be.

2 Saviour, breathe forgiveness o'er us:
all our weakness thou dost know;
thou didst tread this earth before us,
thou didst feel its keenest woe;
lone and dreary, faint and weary,
through the desert thou didst go.

3 Spirit of our God, descending,
fill our hearts with heavenly joy,
love with every passion blending,
pleasure that can never cloy:
thus provided, pardoned, guided,
nothing can our peace destroy.

https://youtu.be/Wqzau4v23m0

Blessing

May the love of God the Father strengthen you.
May the truth of God the Son sustain you.
May the companionship of God the Holy Spirit
comfort and encourage you along the way,
today and every day. Amen

    *     *     *     *     *

As a way into the theme and ideas of today`s readings and reflection you might like to watch these two short videos.
The first one has Frederick Buechner, an American writer and Presbyterian minister, reflecting on Jesus saying `I am the way…`

https://youtu.be/6XvhEaRAZpg

The second is some information about a Rembrandt painting, one of his first, stoning of Stephen

https://youtu.be/ukrUNc3dZco

What do you think?

All mighty God, through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Saviour,
we are privileged to call You our Father.
Today, we come to You as grateful children to express our love and praise, our worship and wonder.
In Christ, You show us the way to live, the way to life,
the way to live a different sort of life…
Through Christ, You speak uncompromising truth which both confronts and comforts us…
Because of Christ, You will abundant life –
for us and for all creation.
We are in awe.

Draw near, by Your Spirit.
Show us the way. Speak truth to our hearts. Bring new life to us,
And, in fulness of time, bring us to resurrected life.
So hear our confession
We have made mistakes.
Gone our own way. Denied and disregarded the truth.
Refused and resisted the offer of the life Christ offers.
Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.
In the name and for the sake of Jesus, our risen Lord,
forgive and renew us as we hear His words of grace to each of us: `Your sins are forgiven`

Thanks be to God.

Amen