Sunday after Ascension

7th Sunday of Easter
Jesus is Glory!

Acts 1:6-14
Ps 68:1-10,32-35 
1 Pet 4:12-14; 5:6-11 
John 17:1-11 

Now this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. Alleluia! John 17: 3

Tena koutou katoa e te whanau o Te Wairua Tapu.

In today’s gospel, Jesus offers prayers for himself, his disciples and his followers. It’s obvious the time had come for Jesus to leave and ascend back to God the father, back to his place of origin. So before he goes, Jesus prays to God to protect and unite his followers through the name given to him, Jesus. He prayed for this unified protection so that when the time came his followers would be prepared to receive the Holy Spirit and to have the necessary strength and courage they will need to face the same world that rejected him.

On reflection, I can understand why Jesus prayed for his followers as we have been given insights into the good and bad side of humanity over the past 8 to 9 weeks. Knowing what humanity are capable of doing to each other and to see the war raging between right and wrong, good and evil, rich and poor, only tells me, that the Church and followers of Jesus need his prayers because we have plenty of work to do in this broken ego driven world! 

So whanau, I hope you have taken this time of being still, waiting and watching and deepening your relationship with God so that you are energised, prepared and full of running for your return to karakia at Te Wairua Tapu. So when we come together as one, our prayers and our actions will be a powerful and potent force to be reckoned with. Our worship should enable God to touch, embrace, shape and change us through the God given gifts we have received. So you should have identified your gifts by now as you will be challenged to use them openly and wisely for the benefit of the church and the world. In other words, when we are called to unite and work together again, our karakia will, not should, glorify God with integrity and devotion throughout the entire service; every word we utter and every hymn we sing glorifies God in the most expressive way. The time for mediocre karakia is over!

You see, today’s gospel from John is full of theology. And there is nothing better than to let the word speak for itself. Jesus looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed. ‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours.’

Read and re-read. If you don’t get it then you won’t but that’s still okay. But if you do, then you will understand that eternal life is not reserved until we die; it is something we share now through Jesus. We receive eternal life the moment we have faith in Jesus and begin to have a relationship with him. We don’t wait and expect to just receive the gift of eternal life. Hold on Jesus, I’ll get to you one day! That’s not how it works.

Plus, we have the privilege of having a living, vibrant and growing relationship with the God of all that exists. A God we know, through Jesus, to be a compassionate, forgiving, loving and healing God. True eternal life is all about knowing God and knowing Jesus. It is centred on our relationship with God, and that relationship comes through knowing Jesus. When Jesus prays for us, he is after something deeper. He wants to wake up the heart of God within us. Jesus did not pray that all believers would or should agree. The source of our unity is not in human structures. It’s in Jesus Christ. Our unity gives us strength in difficult and tough times like now. It is true that there is power in numbers. That’s how powerful the church is when every one of us prays constantly with one heart and one mind! So hold on whanau! We are preparing to begin a new chapter and breath new life into the story we get to live out at Te Wairua Tapu. Amen.

Holy God, you have not left us alone but promised your abiding protection. In all we face, grant us such a knowledge of your presence, and abiding care, that nothing can destroy our trust. Through Jesus Christ our Liberator, who is alive and reigns with you,  in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

The Venerable Kaio Karipa
Sydney Maori Anglican Fellowship Church of Te Wairua Tapu