So today, again, I was presiding at the Eucharist for Recovery - 12 Step Communion at Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria. It's always a welcome space for reflection and prayer and the opportunity for a short 'mini-sermon' gives me the chance to touch on a subject and, hopefully, begin the process of engaging with a subject rather than trying to give too many answers. The thoughts below are my reflections on the reading set for today - John Chapter 11 verses 1-10
The Glory of God
How do you picture glory? Lots of bling? Lots of bright light? Big ancient buildings full of beauty and art and tradition? Huge skyscrapers or outstanding
buildings? Is it the wonder of nature, mountains and cliffs? Or is it the pinnacles of human achievement, in sport , or business, or entertainment, or
music, or art?
We often associate glory with ‘big and impressive’. Or outstanding beauty. When we talk of the glory of God we think in terms of a God who is great and powerful and wonderful and overwhelming – who is AWESOME (to use one of my favourite west coast terms in its proper way)
But how does Jesus – God in the flesh – talk about glory?
He prays, in today’s reading, that God is glorified in the work he, Jesus, did. And that the work of glory is to bring fullness of life to people.
How was that done? By parades and processions, outstanding artwork and buildings, by splendour and majesty?
The glory Christ showed, the life he shared was found in washing the feet of his friends.It was found in reaching out to the unlovely and unloved. It was found in the healing, and blessing, and praying, and loving Jesus did. It was found in tears and laughter, in eating together, in teaching and learning. And ultimately the Glory of God is seen on the cross, where the cost of love is shown.
In words attributed to Ireneus of Lyon, a saint from the second century, we hear "The glory of God is man fully alive, and the life of man is the vision of God” – in more contemporary language we might put it like this “The glory of God is a human being fully alive."
By this we see God’s glory, when there is healing for our brokenness, hope in despair, joy out of sadness. Wherever there is a movement towards wholeness, there is a movement towards holiness – and God’s glory shines.
God’s glory doesn’t shine only in pomp and ceremony, but every movement any one of us makes towards God’s desire for our healing is an act of glory, where the wonder of God is made present.It may not feel like it – but the glory of God is in the dirt, and struggle, and death that leads to resurrection. And God’s spirit is right there, working with and in us as we open ourselves up to the glory of God, as we learn, and re-learn God’s love for us even at rock bottom.
Even at our worst. When we feel nothing but shame and failure, God’s love is there for us, accepting, affirming, inspiring, healing – and in turning to that love. we are a part of the glory of God working in our world.
Jesus knew things would be tough for his followers, in today’s reading he is praying before his death, and it is only through the death of the cross that we get to the new life of resurrection. And it is only then through Christ leaving his disciples that we get to the point we will celebrate this Sunday as the Holy Spirit is poured out on all people – whether or not they – or we - feel worthy of it.
This is the glory of God, found in healing and welcome, inclusion and new life, found in the hard things which Jesus friends would encounter as Jesus prayed “I have been glorified in them.” that acceptance of new life, by recognising Christ in the trials and by moving towards healing, then Christ is glorified in us.
As we move to fullness of life in Christ, we will indeed be able to be examples of God’s glory, For the glory of God is a human being fully alive.