Dear family of St Paul’s
Greetings in Jesus’ name on this Third Easter Sunday!
Sermon: Revd’ Sabelo Mthimkhulu
“Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one”
As some of us might know, on Thursday, the followers of Jesus (Christians) celebrated the Ascension Day.
This day marks the returning of Jesus to the Father or to God.
After 40 day of His resurrection, Jesus led his disciples to the Mount of Olive in Jerusalem, to inform them that the time for him to return to the Father has come.
Jesus leaves His followers with instructions of living, serving, and caring for another.
John presents to us a prayer of Jesus.
In this prayer Jesus is a mediator for his followers.
In this pericope, Jesus prays for protection.
Jesus asks the Holy Father to protect the ones whom he has given in His (the Father’s) name, so that they may be one as the Father and the Son are one.
The point of protection is that His followers should mirror or reflect the relationship that God (the Father) has with God (the Son).
Jesus is praying for an inseparable unity.
The unity that can only be found in Him and the Father.
He prays for a genuine love,
The love that he himself has shown to the world he has been sent to.
So, it is when God has protected them that they can be able to share this wonderful Love with the world.
Jesus is also praying that God protects His own (His followers) from the evil one
And He suggests that this “evil one” is at work in the world.
But one may wonder, who or what is this evil one?
If that’s you, you are not the only one,
Quite a number of Theologian have also grappled with question
One of the interesting Theological ideas suggests that when Jesus speaks about the world,
He is referring to the Earth, as interesting as this Theology might sound but it can also be dangerous.
It could suggest that all what we have here on earth is evil and undesirable by God.
And only whatever is up there (in Heaven) is good and desirable by God.
The second story of creation suggests that God formed us out of the ground
He formed us from the Earth.
And out of the ground, came every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food,
So how can the Earth then be evil?
How can what God has created us from, be evil?
This interpretation sometimes goes as far as denying that everything on earth is the gift from God.
And this understanding results in questions such as
- Then if we are not of this world “Earth”, what is the point of loving, caring for the Mother Earth?
Let’s destroy it, so we can quickly move away from it and its evilness.
Our current environmental challenges have proven this theology to be not helpful.
It results into the lack of appreciating what God grants us through nature.
So, what is this world, that Jesus is going and on about?
The relationship between Jesus, His followers and the world are so complicated in John’s narrative
You remember that famous John 3:16 verse “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”
And in today’s pericope, we hear that Jesus’ followers were chosen from the “world”.
And the same time they are hated by the “world”
They are also not of the world, and Jesus prays that they be protected from the evil one who is at work in the “world”.
As much as they are hated by the world, but Jesus doesn’t desire that they be taken out of the “world”
That sounds confusing, isn’t?
Can I make just this one Theological suggestion about the world Jesus is talking about?
The “world” is that part of us (our society), that embraces hatred, hetero-patriarchy, racism, gender stereotype, violence, lack of care for those in need, economic imbalance, lack of environmental stewardship etc.
It is this world that Jesus prays that God protects us from
But why it then Jesus praying that His followers (And maybe us this morning) do not get taken out of the world, but rather that God protects them from the evil one?
Maybe it is because their ministry was the ministry of challenging these worldly systems.
They had to be a light in darkness,
Love where there is hatred,
Hope where there is despair
And Joy where there is sadness
We as followers of Jesus, are also called to this challenging ministry
And It is only when we reflect the union of the Father and Son, that we can mend the brokenness of our society.
God’s existence on Earth can be experienced through our own act of unity.
“Holy Father, keep us in Your name, which You have given Your Son our Lord Jesus Christ, that we may be one, even as You and Your Son are one”
During this difficult time of the global pandemic, you are invited to make a contribution to the ministry and mission of our church by making a donation to the following account: Account Name: St Paul’s Church Account Number: 50854628623 Bank: First National Bank (FNB) Branch Code: 221426