Today the St John’s community celebrates the 80th Anniversary of our Women’s Fellowship. Since its establishment, they have brought Jesus’ love to life. Helping those in need, like Dorcas, who was always doing good and helping the poor. Like Martha, they’ve excelled in hospitality and witnessed to Jesus’ risen life. Like Mary, they have sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to his word. Like each one of us, they have experience both good seasons and hard times. It’s the life of Jesus in each of these women, and in each of us, that overflows in love for one another and the world.
Did you see the movie “Liar, Liar”? It was the story of a fast-talking lawyer whose son’s birthday wish was that he could tell the truth for 24 hours. The result was hilarious and disturbing at the same time. Today’s gospel would make a great movie, not about lying but about telling the truth. Jesus sees a blind man. He reaches out and heals him. His life is completely transformed. He tells his story without fear and favour, to his neighbours and then to the religious authorities. But truth-telling and light-bringing isn’t easy. Some people listen, but not everyone. We have the task of sharing the truth that Jesus our Lord has healed us. We let God’s light do its work of shining in the darkness. Good news for us is good news for all.
Remember the Millenium drought? It was such a disheartening time. The natural environment was struggling, and so were we. It seems that we are living in the middle of a spiritual drought. We wonder what God is up to? Is he still living and active? Today’s encounter between Jesus and the woman at the well gives us hope. Jesus speaks about the living water that he has to give. Jesus knew her, he saw right through her, and he loved her. His love transformed her life, and her story led others to the source of this living water, Jesus himself. This is Jesus’ ongoing promise to us. The water he gives us becomes in us a spring of living water, welling up to eternal life. For us, and all people.
The times are always changing, but the change is becoming less predictable and more profound. And we find this difficult to cope with. How do we and the church itself live in this kind of world? Nicodemus may have had these kind of questions when he came to see Jesus. But he gets far more from this conversation than he expected. Jesus talks about God’s new way of dealing with the world. Those who want to follow God must be born again of water and the Spirit. Nicodemus struggled to get on board with what Jesus was saying. He was talking about God’s radical change, transforming people through his Spirit, showing the world how much he loves all people. In the midst of a changing world, we need to refocus our eyes on Jesus, and continue to announce God’s saving love.
We’ve all heard the saying, “As trustworthy as a politician’s promise.” Satan’s promises to Adam and Eve, and to Jesus in his temptation aren’t worth anything. All that Satan can do is destroy. Only God can create life and bring hope. After his baptism, Jesus faces off with Satan. The stakes are high, but for our sake, Jesus prevails. His hope is in his relationship with his heavenly Father, and his strength is on God’s powerful word. He resists where we cannot, and he shares the gift of his obedience with us: the same relationship he has with his Father, and the strength to follow him.
Some of us have grown up with the Stars Wars movies. We can map how we’ve grown up and matured by the release date of each movie. In his word, the Bible, God has given us the multifaceted story of his love for the universe he created, the world in which we live, and each one of us individually. The Transfiguration is one important episode. Here God gives us a glimpse into the true identity of his Son, Jesus Christ. But God transforms what glory means: it is the power of love in action. God’s glory is fully and finally revealed in Jesus’ cross and resurrection.
'See I have set before you life and prosperity, death and adversity.' God says in Deut 30:15. As God’s people we have a decision to make each and every day. Is it to choose God, to obey him, to follow him? Or is it a somewhat different decision?
The world seems to be getting darker; according to scientists, it’s now 90 seconds to midnight, the end of the world. But Christians believe that light triumphs over darkness, through Jesus and his saving work. Jesus calls his church to be both salt and light; flavouring, preserving, healing and enlightening a world stuck in a dark place. The people of God shine the light of Christ through being merciful, humble, pure in heart, making peace and suffering for Jesus’ name. All of these things point people to the God who rules over all in love, peace and mercy, and who is bringing the new day to birth through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
It’s almost impossible for us to imagine how shocking it was for the first Christians to “proclaim Christ and him crucified.” And more than that, to confess that Jesus had risen from the dead. Today people are used to seeing the symbol of the cross on church buildings, without understanding its power and wisdom: power that serves in love, and wisdom that enables us to live a hopeful and purposeful life. The message of the cross is the centre of our faith life and the hope of the world.