Fifth Sunday of Easter

FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

 

Readings:

Acts 7:55-60

Psalm 31

1 Peter 2:2-10

John 14:1-14

 

Collect

Almighty God,

who through your only begotten Son Jesus Christ

have overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life:

grant that, as by your grace going before us you put into our minds good desires,

so by your continual help

we may bring them to good effect;

through Jesus Christ our risen Lord,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

 

Reflections:

 

St Stephen died, as did his Lord, entrusting his spirit to the loving arms of God and praying forgiveness for his tormentors – a perfect example of a man of faith, as knowing himself held by God, he was able to hold others in his turn.

 

I remember once seeing an ancient sculpture of St Stephen (I don’t remember anything about where/who carved etc) but what I do remember is that I was deeply moved by it because the artist had painted in the eyes of this marble figure with silver – the eyes were silvered and shiny which to me meant that they were not only ‘seeing beyond’ but also reflecting back something of the vision that was being experienced.

 

It caused me to reflect on seeing – and on being seen and how important it is for us as human beings that we are seen by others.

 

As the paediatrician, D. W. Winnicott from his work with mothers and their babies, said,

 

‘When I look, I am seen, so I exist. I can now afford to look and see’

 

And we are back where we were last week with Moses and I AM and the holy ground of BEING.

 

There is also for me something in this account about Stephen that calls to mind our Maundy Thursday reflections – Jesus washed his Disciples’ feet, ‘knowing that he had come from God and was going to God’.

 

Stephen, like his Lord, knew that he had come from God and was going to God – that is, he knew who he was – he had encountered God in the depth of his being – he had looked and been ‘seen’.

 

When I look towards/for God, what do I see?

When God looks at me…….?

 

When we look at another, what do we see?

When they look at us, what do they see?

 

Stephen had faith, by which I understand not intellectual beliefs – doctrines and dogmas – but, rather, an attitude of trust that gives security, breeds hope and ultimately, removes the fear that precludes our capacity to love.

 

Surely, this is the faith that Jesus speaks of when he says in the Gospel reading,

 

‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith in God, have faith also in me’,

 

as he did to his Disciples on the eve of his death according to John’s Gospel.

 

I cannot stay with you, Jesus said, but you are not going to be left alone.

 

So, to the Easter mystery that is portrayed so powerfully in the enigmatic and moving accounts of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus recorded in the Gospels.

 

We can look and be seen and in so doing discover that we, too, come from God and are going to God.

 

Jesus leaving his Disciples was not the end of their journey to God because he had shown them THE WAY to God. Finding that way, they were able to carry on Christ’s work in the world, just as we are called to do, each in our own unique way.

 

We each can encounter Christ in ourselves and in one another and in our world ----

 

‘When I look, I am seen, so I exist. I can now afford to look - and see.’

 

I AM the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE

 

Find THE WAY, then you will know THE TRUTH and so discover the fullness of LIFE that is yours in Christ.

 

 The central panel of a St Stephen triptych is a 1616-1617 painting by Peter Paul Rubens now in the Musée des Beaux Arts de Valenciennes. Notice the waiting winner’s crown - laurel wreath – the meaning of the name, ‘Stephen’, in Greek.

 

 

 

SS            9/5/20

 

ps please note that the above is not fully referenced as it is sent to congregation members for personal use only!

 

 FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

 

Readings:

Acts 7:55-60

Psalm 31

1 Peter 2:2-10

John 14:1-14

 

Collect

Almighty God,

who through your only begotten Son Jesus Christ

have overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life:

grant that, as by your grace going before us you put into our minds good desires,

so by your continual help

we may bring them to good effect;

through Jesus Christ our risen Lord,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

 

Reflections:

 

St Stephen died, as did his Lord, entrusting his spirit to the loving arms of God and praying forgiveness for his tormentors – a perfect example of a man of faith, as knowing himself held by God, he was able to hold others in his turn.

 

I remember once seeing an ancient sculpture of St Stephen (I don’t remember anything about where/who carved etc) but what I do remember is that I was deeply moved by it because the artist had painted in the eyes of this marble figure with silver – the eyes were silvered and shiny which to me meant that they were not only ‘seeing beyond’ but also reflecting back something of the vision that was being experienced.

 

It caused me to reflect on seeing – and on being seen and how important it is for us as human beings that we are seen by others.

 

As the paediatrician, D. W. Winnicott from his work with mothers and their babies, said,

 

‘When I look, I am seen, so I exist. I can now afford to look and see’

 

And we are back where we were last week with Moses and I AM and the holy ground of BEING.

 

There is also for me something in this account about Stephen that calls to mind our Maundy Thursday reflections – Jesus washed his Disciples’ feet, ‘knowing that he had come from God and was going to God’.

 

Stephen, like his Lord, knew that he had come from God and was going to God – that is, he knew who he was – he had encountered God in the depth of his being – he had looked and been ‘seen’.

 

When I look towards/for God, what do I see?

When God looks at me…….?

 

When we look at another, what do we see?

When they look at us, what do they see?

 

Stephen had faith, by which I understand not intellectual beliefs – doctrines and dogmas – but, rather, an attitude of trust that gives security, breeds hope and ultimately, removes the fear that precludes our capacity to love.

 

Surely, this is the faith that Jesus speaks of when he says in the Gospel reading,

 

‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith in God, have faith also in me’,

 

as he did to his Disciples on the eve of his death according to John’s Gospel.

 

I cannot stay with you, Jesus said, but you are not going to be left alone.

 

So, to the Easter mystery that is portrayed so powerfully in the enigmatic and moving accounts of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus recorded in the Gospels.

 

We can look and be seen and in so doing discover that we, too, come from God and are going to God.

 

Jesus leaving his Disciples was not the end of their journey to God because he had shown them THE WAY to God. Finding that way, they were able to carry on Christ’s work in the world, just as we are called to do, each in our own unique way.

 

We each can encounter Christ in ourselves and in one another and in our world ----

 

‘When I look, I am seen, so I exist. I can now afford to look - and see.’

 

I AM the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE

 

Find THE WAY, then you will know THE TRUTH and so discover the fullness of LIFE that is yours in Christ.

 

 The central panel of a St Stephen triptych is a 1616-1617 painting by Peter Paul Rubens now in the Musée des Beaux Arts de Valenciennes. Notice the waiting winner’s crown - laurel wreath – the meaning of the name, ‘Stephen’, in Greek.

 

 

 

SS            9/5/20

 

ps please note that the above is not fully referenced as it is sent to congregation members for personal use only!