Sunday, May 28, 2017

2017-4 Seeing Glory (John 17 1-10) - The Prayer of Jesus

My field education this week started with a birthday party for one of the residents of Carlsbad-By-The-sea (CBTS) who turned 100 years old. As he joked on the day “Now I am starting my second century”. What a great way to look at life.

I started working on my sermon early in the week, studying and praying on John 17 1:10 especially as someone had asked me previously “If Jesus was God why did He need to pray?”. After a few false starts and no real conviction, even after discussing this with some residents it dawned on me that this was not to be the focus of the week. Whilst I think that we could improve the prayer life of the community at CBTS this was not the week to do that. I will take that on as an objective for June.

After further study and prayer it struck me that this week’s passage is about the Glory of God.  Glory, an important word that is found over 400 times in the Bible, is one of those words that is hard to explain.

We can start to understanding this word if we think of it as being used in three different ways:
·         Something that is real; something we can see, hear, or touch, maybe a bright light or fire as in (Exodus 16:7) when the Israelites saw “the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount" or in nature when we see the power of the waves, strong winds or even bright colors at sunset.
·         Something we cannot touch or see. Ideas like truth, love, and justice are abstract and can be the feeling we have when we see God’s glory as we look at a sunset, listen to music, or look at a piece of art that moves us. Many verses use it in this way as feelings that refer to God's glory. In the Song of Moses after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea the Bible states that the Lord is "glorious in power" "glorious in holiness" and that He has "triumphed gloriously”.
·         God’s divine nature appears in the skills and talents He gives us and the works He performs through us. This is not just in praise and worship but more. St Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:6 writes “For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. We too can do His will through the use of the knowledge He gives us. That is how we recognize His glory and how we glorify Him.
When we look at how Jesus glorified God, He showed God’s glory, divinity, grace, and power in what He did during His ministry and on the cross.

Jesus, the Word sent from the Father to die on the cross for our salvation, shows His light shining out of darkness by finishing the work God the Father gave him to do. He honored Him through his obedience to His commands, taught what He wanted him to teach, and performed healing and other works that He wanted him to perform. Jesus glorified God the Father by revealing God's power in himself.

The gospel links glorification to a process or series of events in Jesus ministry that culminates in the crucifixion. The crucifixion and resurrection complete Jesus' work of glorifying God on earth.

In visits this week the glory of God, as revealed through sights, feelings and actions, started to show up in discussions I had on pastoral care visits. Two special examples come to mind.

One is a lady I visited who mentioned that she remembered her grandmother always saying “Glory be!” whenever she saw or heard something she thought was wonderful and miraculous. This expression has now been passed through all the following generations of her family. Passing this down through the generations is a great way to praise god for His glory.

The other example is the person who turned 100 this week. He is a world renowned botanist who studied at Harvard, then became a professor there and later held full professorships at Syracuse and Duke Universities. As we were discussing the gifts God has given us and glory He has shown through our actions I was surprised at his humility. Especially when he said “I think it was God’s glory that made sure that the students I taught and mentored went on to do greater things than I. I may have been educated at some fine establishments but I always thought my students were brighter than me”. During his career he authored over 30 books, many papers and did teach students who also went on to great things in biology, chemistry and their application to agriculture. He even mentored a Japanese student who was awarded a Noble prize.

There were other times throughout the week when discussion on God’s glory at this week’s bible study sessions or in pastoral care visits produced examples of how we see and feel God’s glory and how we glorify Him in our words and deeds.

The advantage of providing the weekly Service Of The Word, bible studies, prayer sessions, and pastoral care to CBTS residents who are mostly in their 80's and 90's is that there is extensive experience and history that is shared and discussed on any topic each week.

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