22 Oct 2017
What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger

15 Oct 2017
This Too Shall Pass

8 Oct 2017
The Simple Truth: Head, Heart and Hands

1 Oct 2017
Humility – Staying close to the ground

2 Jul 2017
Welcoming the Silence

25 Jun 2017
Always Uniting…

18 Jun 2017
Are you ready for harvest?

11 Jun 2017
Don’t Blame it on the Snake

4 Jun 2017
Words Beyond Words: Breath Beyond Breath

28 May 2017
Seeing with new eyes

14 May 2017
Grace, Gracious and Graceful

30 Apr 2017
A Time for war and a time for peace

23 Apr 2017
Faithful Doubting

16 Apr 2017
God became human so that we could become divine!

12 Mar 2017
Wind of the Spirit

12 Feb 2017
From the Mountainside: The Impossible Dream?

22 Jan 2017
Grounding our Life and Faith

25 Dec 2016
That Humanity should become Divine

11 Dec 2016
Joy is for Everyone

4 Dec 2016
The Mingling of Water and Spirit

27 Nov 2016
Living Fully in the Present Moment

16 Oct 2016
Persistence and Justice

9 Oct 2016
Gratitude and Thankfulness

2 Oct 2016
Standing in the Tragic Gap

25 Sep 2016
Rich Man, Poor Man

4 Sep 2016
The Gift of Freedom

21 Aug 2016
A Hidden Wholeness

14 Aug 2016
We all need wise words to live by

31 Jul 2016
When Less is More

24 Jul 2016
Developing Healthy Relationships

17 Jul 2016
Died Wise

10 Jul 2016
Meeting Strangers on the Road

3 Jul 2016
On the Road Again

29 May 2016
Faith is the Answer

22 May 2016
The Way of Wisdom

15 May 2016
Icons and Stained Glass Windows – Inner light

8 May 2016
Unity and Oneness

1 May 2016
A Hidden Wholeness

24 Apr 2016
Lest we forget: What?

17 Apr 2016
God became human so that we could become divine!

3 Apr 2016
Thank God for St Thomas!

27 Mar 2016
Living life’s great contradictions

20 Mar 2016
Message of Peace

13 Mar 2016
Living Fully, Loving Wastefully

6 Mar 2016
Come Home, all is forgiven

28 Feb 2016
Simply, leave it alone

21 Feb 2016
Why do we “kill” our prophets?

7 Feb 2016
Keeping your Head in the Clouds

Sermons

Unity and Oneness

08 May, 2016 John 17:20-26 Easter 7 By Rev Dr Christopher Page

 

Introduction
John’s Gospel gives a remarkable vision of the world to come.  It is from this narrative that we get all the “I am” statements we read about.

I am the bread of life - John 6: 35, 48
I am the light of the world - John 8: 12, 9:5
Before Abraham was, I am - John 8: 58
I am the door - John 10:9
I am the good shepherd - John 10:11
I am the resurrection and the life - John 11:25
I am the way, the truth, and the life - John 14:6
I am the true vine - John 15:1

Now John’s Gospel was written almost a hundred years after the death of Jesus.  That is at least two generations (perhaps three in the ancient world).  The Christian communities are beginning to grow and develop and they face persecution by both the Jewish religious leaders and the Roman state.  This is in part why there are so many references to the “Jews”, references that have often been used to vilify the Jewish people.  Because these communities are separating themselves from their “parent” religion and at the same time more Greeks and Romans are converting to this new religion, they are being shaped by their new cultural environment.

John’s gospel is often regarded as more theological because it has less of the life and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth and more theological reflection on the words that have been handed down through the tradition.  That’s where this passage read earlier comes in.  It is not a very simple message to understand, but it may be one of the most important passages for the 21st century, because it has more to do with the way we think today than the way the ancients thought.  

One of the remarkable things about history is that an idea can appear well before its time.  For example, when was the earth proposed as round, well actually spherical?

The concept of a spherical Earth dates back to around the 6th century BC, when it was mentioned by Pythagoras in ancient Greek philosophy, but remained a matter of philosophical speculation until the 3rd century BC, when Hellenistic astronomy established the spherical shape of the earth as a physical given. 1

By the middle ages it was proved, but the idea of a round earth preceded its discovery by almost two thousand years. And of course then came that great controversy proposed by Galileo and Copernicus that the sun did not revolve around the earth but that the earth revolved around the sun.  Ideas that took either decades or millennia to be accepted and adopted as scientific orthodoxy. 2

Adopting a New Orthodoxy
When the author of the Gospel of John was writing, he wasn’t just writing about Jesus of Nazareth, the Palestinian Jew.  He was writing about “the Christ, the anointed one”. Jesus was the man and the Christ was the universal one.  John glimpsed in the stories of Jesus not just a good moral man, nor only a wise sage, but he saw in the stories handed down to him the light of universal oneness in creation and all humanity.  

But what I think is often lost in this revelation is that the Christ, the risen presence, is not just a single man, but is representive of all humanity.

As you are in me, Father, and I am in you, may those whose lives are open also be in us, so that the whole world may have trust that I am sent for this purpose. …

The 14th century mystic put it in these words:

Our soul is so especially loved of Him that it transcends knowing by all creatures: that is to say, there is no creature that is made that may know how much and how sweetly and how tenderly our Maker loves us.

The Mystic John
For me that is the significance of the resurrection, it is Christ let loose in the world so that love will be free to all people.  I am quite aware that that is not a reality at present. But we do see growth and new life and beauty and wholeness and that is surely love.  If not, at least the seeds of love.    

I want to push this a bit further.  If Jesus remains a Palestine Jew he will be regarded as a great man; a great moral teacher.  But with his death comes the release of an energy that can transform the world.  And here is that most significant shift in the modern world and that is, if The Christ remains just a Christian, than he will be limited to one religion and one way of seeing our world.

As John writes:

"I ask not only on behalf of those present, but also for those who will find life in me so that we may all be one. These are the ones you loved before the foundation of the world…. so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them."

I don’t believe in Christianity conquering the world so that all people will follow my religion.  That was tried in the 4th Century and again in the 15th Century and several times in between and each time it was a violent failure.  But what if in some way we were able to see the Christ as the embodiment of love? And we could see it in all human religions?  And we could experience love evolving toward the omega point of life?  I don’t think the world would be a better place with one language or one culture or even one religion.  The oneness of life John writes about is the oneness of love and that is expressed in harmony and diversity.

When St Augustine of Hippo was asked what he loved, he said:

Knowledge of God begins with a felt experience, a within-ness that is at once real but ineffable; felt and yet ungraspable…I do love a certain light, a certain voice, a certain food, a certain embrace when my love for God floods into my soul.  This is what I love when I love my God…

I don’t think John restricted the Cosmic Christ only to those who happened to be born in a Christian country.  I think his great “I ams” are for all people of the world:

I am the bread of life for all to eat - John 6: 35, 48
I am the light of the world for all to see - John 8: 12, 9:5
Before Abraham was, I am - John 8: 58
I am the door to new life - John 10:9
I am the good shepherd who cares for all - John 10:11
I am the resurrection and the life; come, all is prepared - John 11:25
I am the true vine; we are all joined to the great tree of life - John 15:1
I am the way - love -, the truth about ourselves, and the life of the world - John 14:6

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1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spherical_Earth
2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_Galilei

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