Here is my sermon from yesterday morning. I was not able to send it out yesterday because I spent the middle part of the day going to and from Glastonbury Abbey, Hingham, MA, for spiritual direction, something I had been unable to do since December partly due to illness in January, and mostly due to the interruptions of public transportation due to New England winter weather February through early April.
Yesterday morning’s Eucharist was our monthly Requiem for departed members of the SSJE and various friends of the Society, so I added the final paragraph as a way of tying the theme of the sermon in with our liturgical observance, including reference to inclusion of the Communion of Saints. I have already shared a copy of this sermon with my spiritual director, Fr. Nicholas, OSB.
I owe a spiritual debt of gratitude to Abp. William Temple’s Readings in St. John’s Gospel for insights gained from frequent meditation on the appropriate chapter of that book.
David Allen, SSJE
The Gospel for this morning carries forward essentially the same theme as yesterday’s Gospel, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” (Jn 3:16) In that verse (16) the focus is primarily on God’s love for the world, and his extremely generous gift of his only Son so that those who believe in him may not perish but may have eternal life. (Ibid.)
At the end of this same Chapter 3, in today’s Gospel the focus is on the beloved Son, “The one who comes from heaven” (v. 31), and on “whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.” (v.36a)
In our Baptism we have promised to follow and obey Jesus Christ as our Lord (cf. BCP p.303). We therefore are also included in the whole company of faithful believers, and have the promise of eternal life.
In today’s Gospel reading there are additional words and phrases that give encouragement to us all. E.g. “Whoever has accepted the testimony of [him] who comes from heaven has certified that God is true.” (v.33)
At the end of the last, and crucial, sentence is a solemn warning, “whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.” (v. 36b) That warning should carry no fear for those whose faith is strong. For those whose faith is weak it is a warning as long as disobedience persists. Remember that God is merciful. He offers forgiveness to those who repent.
Especially now in Eastertide, we can find strong encouragement and hope in the Resurrection of our Lord and in the promise Jesus gave before his Ascension, to be with us always, to the end of the age. (Mt. 28:20) I understand that as a promise that extends beyond this life to the life of eternal joy.
At this monthly Requiem today as we pray for our departed brothers, (and sisters) who have already passed into the life beyond this life, can we not also find comfort, joy and love in their prayers for us?
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