Sunday, 10 May 2015

I call you friends

I wonder what you can remember of the excitement or maybe interpretation in the first moment that you realized that Jesus Christ was making a demand on your life?

I wonder if you are at a stage in your life right now when you are looking ahead and realizing that your relationship with Jesus Christ is taking you in to new and uncharted waters, that maybe Jesus is calling you to something new in your life, something disturbing or something you would rather not have to deal with?

In our Gospel reading taken from what are called Jesus’ “farewell discourses” in John, we hear Jesus speak of “friendship” as the new relationship he has created with his followers. The Greek word he uses here for friend is philos, meaning someone who loves.

“I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends,
because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.”

And so God’s friendship also has something to do with transparency, authenticity, what we might call plain, direct speech as opposed to flattery or holding back.

A way to think about this is that Jesus is God’s “plain speech to us,” the Word coming to us in our own language, in fact in our own flesh, the Word revealing to us and uniting us to the heart of God’s very self.

As we continue to celebrate Easter, marking that celebration with the renewal of our baptismal vows.
As we reflect on what our calling and vocation as Christians in this world might mean in every day language, what it might call us to do with our lives.
As we work together as the body of Christ in these communities of Hendon and Colindale showing forth not just in our words and prayers but by our actions too the love of Christ that we find to be true at the heart of our lives….

I want to remind you that all of us are the enactment of God’s outpouring of life and God’s transparent, authentic and direct speech, that has  already come to us in Christ Jesus.

When we think of Vocation, when we look back on the lives of some of the saints or those whose lives inspire us I guess it is a truth that for them their calling, their vocation is at one and the same time like the kiss of a lover that entices and woes us and like the bite of wild animal that draws blood and caused pain.

On Thursday we recalled those whose calling was to stand against an evil in this world that took life, crushed freedom and threatened the future that has been our lives. We gave thanks for Victory day in Europe on a day that we also when to the polls as a nation to cast our vote. We were able to stand together as a nation at the voting booth on Thursday; because of those who stood together in the face of evil, who gave their blood, who embrace pain and because they cherished life answered the call to give their lives for that love.

When we hear the words of our gospel this morning we see a clear understanding in the mind of John the author of the gospel of the extremes that can be a mark of our calling as friends of Christ.

The first of these is extreme, for it’s the idea that a friend is one who would be willing to give their life for their friend. Put another way, if I am friend to you, your welfare, your hopes and dreams, your very life is so important to me that I am willing for my blood, both the symbol of and reality of my life, to be shed for you.

But in Jesus, of course, the idea of befriending becomes the enactment of befriending. For Jesus doesn’t just talk about things—he is them; he does them.  We thought about this last week with the notion of love, God is love and love is from God. And so the very pattern of Jesus’ life enacts this idea. Jesus lays down his life for his friends and in doing so, shows his disciples and you and me what loving and befriending another will mean: the freely given outpouring of life for the sake of the other.

But the Gospel of John doesn’t stop there. For right along with this notion of friendship and sacrifice comes a second one.

v 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me but I chose you.

Jesus is Lord yes but in this new understanding and relationship that is created by his love we become friends with our Lord, no longer do I call you servants but friend.

Notice the distinction Jesus drew between being a servant and being a friend. It’s not the privilege of the servant to understand his master’s business. It’s just for him to do what he’s told. No questions. No reasons. Just “Very good, sir. If you say so, sir.”
To make it plain that he did not want such blind obedience, Jesus reminded the disciples that he had told them all he could about his Father’s business. This would make it possible for them to give him what he really wanted—the free cooperation of understanding friends.

The bible does give us examples of those who at the same time as being leaders and examples for us are also called God’s friends
 Abraham, Moses and even Job is finally called a friend of God.

Once again it is here that we see a new pattern of vocation, of calling in Christ. blind obedience to a law, loyalty to the God who like a Judge will be merciless in pronouncing judgment when we betray that loyalty
are no longer adequate, sufficient or comprehensive in the light of God’s revelation through Jesus Christ.

So today we do not just remember the past:
The times when we have responded to the call of Christ in our lives.
The times when faced with a decision we have sought direction for our lives from Jesus.
The times when we have felt the support and encouragement of our friends in Christ that have meant we have kept on going in the face of obstacles and setback, disappointments and regrets.

Today is about deciding whether or not we will say “yes” to the continuing life of Christ that is within us. The life of Christ that calls us into a friendship that will change our way of being.

Today is about deciding whether we will say “yes” to the continuing life and vocation that is ours in Christ.  A yes which can be relied upon to ask us to pour out our lives for the sake of the Church and the world at a time when we face so many dangers and troubles.

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