“Ye believe in God, believe also in me”
The readings for The Feast of St. Philip and St. James complement the themes of Eastertide. The fundamental orientation of the Son to the Father is ever so strongly and rather provocatively expressed in the gospel reading, “no man cometh unto the Father but by me,” Jesus says, pointing out to Philip, too, that “he that hath seen me, hath seen the Father.” And yet, Jesus says, “believe me, that I am in the Father, and the Father in me; or else believe me for the very work’s sake.”
The things which Jesus does are the works which manifest the truth and the life and the way of God. And how are we to participate in that? Through prayer. “If ye ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” All prayer is about nothing less and nothing more than asking the Father in the name of the Son by the power of the Spirit. All prayer gathers us into the fundamental orientation of the Son, “because I go unto my Father.” Here again, and providentially, we have the recurring Easter refrain, “because I go to the Father.” Everything is rooted and grounded in the life of God, the holy and blessed Trinity.
“Peace be unto you”
Peace and forgiveness flow out from the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. They are the first-fruits of his resurrection in us. Jesus appears behind closed doors where the disciples are huddled in fear. He proclaims peace and forgiveness. He institutes the means by which his peace and his forgiveness continue with us – through the Holy Spirit breathed out upon the disciples who will be the apostles of his church. They are sent forth to bestow the peace and the forgiveness of God to a fearful and an uncertain world. “Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosoever sins ye retain, they are retained”.
What an awesome charge! And, yet, how little understood. Sometimes known as “the power of the keys,” the proclamation of God’s forgiveness through the ordained ministry to his penitent people effects what it signifies. If we truly confess our sins and truly seek God’s forgiveness, then we receive the grace of forgiveness objectively proclaimed in the words of absolution pronounced by the priest and signified in the sign of the cross. We are forgiven. That is the grace which extends from the Upper Room “the same day at evening,” the day of the resurrection of Christ to us even today. It is as if we are there, in an arrested moment of time and space, the eternal now. Something happens in the liturgy. At every service, Christ appears, as it were, behind closed doors to speak peace and forgiveness to us all.
“Because I go to the Father”
There is confusion before and after. “Because I go to the Father,” Jesus says, but what does he mean, the disciples wonder? And many, many have wondered and continue to wonder ever since. Yet, it is the recurring refrain of the Easter Season that appears time and time again, especially in the last three Sundays of Eastertide.
The refrain goes to the heart of the Christian mystery, to who Jesus is and who he is for us. “Because I go to the Father”, your sorrow – our sorrow – shall be turned into joy. “Because I go to the Father,” the Holy Spirit will come upon you “to guide you into all truth” and “to bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you”.
The phrase “because I go to the Father” speaks to the essential identity of the Son with the Father in the bond of the Holy Spirit. This lies at the very heart of the Christian religion, to the mystery of our communion with God, to our life in Christ. The phrase “because I go to the Father” speaks to the divine intimacy into which Christ would bring us and place us. He would place us in his love for the Father in the Holy Spirit.
These are resurrection words. They speak to us of the hope of the Gospel. They are resurrection words into which all that belongs to sorrow and suffering have been taken and out of which all that belongs to joy and peace come forth. The resurrection, after all, is new birth, new life. Its radical meaning is life to God with God and in God, “because I go to the Father”. Where would we be without prepositions?
His words speak to us about the pilgrimage of salvation: the way he goes for us and that way in us. The psalmist puts it this way:
Blessed are they whose strength is in thee/ in whose heart are the pilgrim ways; Who going through the Vale of Misery use it for a well;/ yea, the early rain covereth it with blessings.
Monday, April 27th
6:00-7:00pm Brownies/Sparks – Parish Hall
Tuesday, April 28th
6:00pm ‘Prayers & Praises’ – Haliburton Place
Thursday, April 30th, Eve of SS. Philip & James
6:30-7:30pm Girl Guides – Parish Hall
7:00pm Holy Communion
Sunday, May 3rd, Fourth Sunday after Easter
8:00am Holy Communion (followed by Men’s Club Breakfast)
10:30am Holy Communion
4:00pm Evening Prayer – Christ Church
Many thanks to Owen Stephens and all who participated and attended the Christ Church Concert, ‘Sacred, Secular & Silly’ on Friday night and many thanks to Bev Morash and everyone else who helped out with the Nfld. & Country Evening of Musical Entertainment on Saturday night.
Saturday, May 9th
4:30-6:00pm Annual Parish Lobster Supper, $30 per ticket.
Friday, May 22nd
3:00pm KES Cadet Corps Church Parade
The collect for today, The Third Sunday After Easter, from The Book of Common Prayer (Canadian, 1962):
ALMIGHTY God, who showest to them that be in error the light of thy truth, to the intent that they may return into the way of righteousness: Grant unto all them that are admitted into the fellowship of Christ’s religion, that they may forsake those things that are contrary to their profession, and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same; through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Epistle: 1 St. Peter 2:11-17
The Gospel: St. John 16:16-22
Artwork: Nikolai Kharlamov, The Holy Eucharist, 1890s, Khram Spasa na Krovi (Church of the Saviour on the Spilt Blood), St. Petersburg.