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SELECTED SERMONS

AT
HOLY TRINITY
SLOANE SQUARE

18 JANUARY 2009

SECOND SUNDAY OF EPIPHANY

THE REVD ROB GILLION


RECTOR
A Sermon for the
Second Sunday of Epiphany

18 January 2009
The Revd Rob Gillion
Rector
Revelations 5.1-10 - John 1.43-51

As we begin this week of Christian Unity, I simply want to


state the obvious. Our commonality in our denominational
diversity is the person of Jesus Christ as Lord. All of us in our
Gospel reading are asked to consider what this means
through the simple invitation of Jesus “Come, Follow me”: our
response to others as we accept this journey. Please “Come
and See” Jesus.

Nathaniel had already made a start – for Jesus witnessed a


longing, a desire of the heart. For to the Jews the fig tree
always stood for peace. Their idea of peace was when you
could sit undisturbed under your own fig tree (Micah 4.4).
Furthermore, the fig tree, like the one in the Rectory garden,
has huge fig leaves to give shade – so Nathaniel could sit and
meditate under the roof of its branches. That’s what Nathaniel
had been doing – praying for the day when God’s chosen one
should come, meditating on the promises of God. Now, here
was Jesus, seeing into the very depths of his heart – the man
who knows my prayers. Nathaniel capitulated forever to the
man who read and understood and satisfied his hearts
desires.

The belief in a Christ like God - and a new way of seeing.


Nathaniel sees Jesus at first as simply a man from Nazareth
– a no-place, then a man of discernment, and finally as a man
who really knows him – no escape!

These stages in seeing are wonderfully illustrated in the


context of the empty tomb on Easter morning. When John
outruns Peter he “peers in” and sees - a verb simply meaning
to use your physical eyes - the linen wrappings lying there.
Peter goes into the tomb and sees - a verb meaning looking
with an eye to detail - the napkin was “rolled up in a place by
itself”. The John goes in and “he saw and believed,” and here
the verb means to see with discernment and insight, the
penny drops and you see what you have never seen before -
the insight of the individual. Then as Christ is encountered as
our eyes are opened by the spirit – we relate to each other.

In our small communities we create love, show compassion,


work for justice or help reconcile those who are divided, grant
forgiveness or ask for it, or stand for truth. The Church, in so
far as it is the Body of Christ, where the Word is read and the
bread is broken, should be the place where these things
happen, when the spirit of Christ is self-evident.

But of course God’s discernment is evident from the


beginning. “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well
pleased”

Then Jesus speaks the word and it happens – forgiveness,


healing, illumination, mercy and grace, joy and love, freedom
and resurrection. Everything broken and fallen, sinful and
diseased, called into salvation. Somewhere along the line
things went wrong – and are in desperate need of fixing.

Keeping company with these words – saying ‘I believe’ for


instance, marks the difference between hope and despair, life
and death. Our words are more important than we ever
supposed. They accrue dignity and gravity in conversation
with Jesus. Jesus ‘narrates’ salvation through leisurely
conversation, intimate personal relationships, compassionate
responses, passionate prayer and putting it all together – a
sacrificial death. We don’t casually walk away from words like
that! The words of Jesus in our Gospel to be savoured this
morning are “Come, follow me.”

What does that mean for you and me? Well first we learn that
when Philip heard these words he immediately recognised
who Jesus was and straightaway wanted to share this
incredible news with his friend.

Nathaniel needed convincing – the promised Messiah from


Nazareth!! – But as soon as he came into his presence – and
he spoke a word of truth about him, he believed – “You are
the Son of God”. Well, says Jesus, just you wait to see what I
have for those who follow me and for you – and so the
Gospel of John unfolds.

First – Jesus made the move to meet with would-be followers.


Jesus makes the move, we respond. That’s how it works.
What are the words we need to hear for ourselves, what signs
in our lives will point us to Jesus Christ?

For a friend of ours, Lorraine, she needs to hear the active


word of healing. Lorraine has been staying at the Rectory
because on New Year’s Day her husband Steve – who has
been living with cancer for the last four years and his immune
system is tough, caught a very violent and destructive virus.
He is now at the Marsden and the first word of healing came
from the consultant surgeon as they discovered what the
virus was. Four life and death operations have since taken
place – their own children have also been staying in London
in our home too.

Their journey has been so so tough, so Janine and I have


been in urgent conversation with God and have heard words
of hope and encouragement, words of love and support and
passionate prayer, to aid them on their journey along with
whatever hospitality we can offer.

Neither of these friends have reached out to God in any


traditional way, neither have professed any faith – but each
time they are in trouble we’re there. We ache for them during
their trials and tribulations – sharing something of their
journey is what we can do – and keep our eyes firmly fixed on
the man who speaks ‘healing’ and illumination. It all begins
with him.

I can not say ‘follow me’. I can say ‘why not try our way and
approach life acknowledging the presence of God and believe
he can overcome. Today what word do you need Jesus to
speak into your life? What word do you want him to speak to
those in your life? Forgiveness, healing, illumination, mercy,
grace, joy, love or freedom.

What words am I encouraged to share from our reading from


Revelation? My eyes and heart were drawn to the gold bowl
filled with incense which represents the prayers of God’s holy
people. You and I for better or for worse have responded to
the call of Jesus - “Come and See”, or have been brought by
a friend, or have simply been drawn here to worship.

In Revelation we are invited to fill our gold bowl, our heart,


with adoration, intercessions and petitions. Having offered our
bowl of prayers, we continue our journey of sorrow and joy to
worship the Lamb, “slaughtered but standing tall”, and return
singing a renewed song of healing and hope into a dark
needy world. What a journey, what an adventure. “Come,”
says Jesus, “follow me.”
Other sermons are also available on the
Holy Trinity website
www.holytrinitysloanesquare.co.uk