Sermon for the Seventh Sunday of Easter
May 17th, 2015
Calvary - St. George's Church, Manhattan
(I ad-libbed quite a bit more for this sermon than I usually do. I think it worked well live. I tried to transcribe some of the parts I ad-libbed. It may not work as well on paper so: wham)
Not too long ago there was a story in the papers about a mother in England who left her three very young children by themselves so that her and her new Australian boyfriend, whom she met online, could go off on a three-week island get-away. You gotta do what you gotta do for love these days, I guess. But, in all seriousness, it is hard to believe that a mother could do such a thing. Leave her three, four, and five year-olds completely alone for weeks. We might wonder what she thought she would find when she got home.
As it turns out, the children were found days later, not by their father--who was also nowhere to be found--but by his parents. When the mother returned from her romantic getaway, the police were waiting for her and she was convicted of willful abandonment.
Suppose this mother had had loving parents who were only too glad to look after the children while she was away. That may have made all the difference. She could have entrusted her little ones to them, safe in the knowledge that they would care for them. We might imagine a mother in that situation giving her parents detailed instructions as to how each child should be looked after, not because she didn’t trust her parents to look after them but because she did. (H/T Tom Wright, John for Everyone Part 2)
In this morning’s Gospel reading from John there is a lot going on, but one thing that is clear is that Jesus is going away. He’s not off on a three-week island getaway with Mary Magdalene. No, He’s headed to the Cross to do the work he came to do: to liberate us from the powers that enslave us and to take away the sins of the world, before returning to his Father. Jesus is not abandoning his disciples. He is not leaving them as orphans. He is entrusting his own to his father, his father whom he knows will care for them every bit as much as he has himself. Jesus prays to his father for his own because they need protection. Because they are at risk.
But what is the risk? What might the disciples need protection from? Well, according to John they need protection from the ’evil one,’ the personification of evil. The one John earlier described as “the ruler of this world.”