The Sunday after Ascension - Reflection

[Jesus said] ‘When the Advocate comes He will testify about me […] you also must testify’ John 15:26-27

Brothers and sisters, I’ve said many times, and I will continue to say it:Church is family. All those who love Jesus are adopted into His family, and so become brothers and sisters. But being a family isn’t always easy,
we fight and argue with our biological family, and we fight and argue with our spiritual family. Being a family isn’t always easy but then as has been said the most worthwhile things in life, the things which make life worth living, are often hard but necessary. Think about some of those things which can be most wonderful: deep friendships; marriage; children; a fulfilling career. All these things are hard and yet really, at their best quite wonderful. When we were pregnant a friend said to me, that having kids is the hardest thing in the world but also the best… and they were absolutely right. I’m trying to get fit, and you know what it’s really hard. I have to get up earlier. I have to get to the swimming pool. I have to swim and keep on swimming even when my body says stop, take a break, have a relax, eat some chocolate. It’s hard work, but it’s necessary if I’m to get fit. Hard but necessary… all the most worthwhile things in life are hard but necessary.

Being a Christian can be hard. Let me be completely upfront about that, just as Jesus was in our Gospel reading this morning (John 15:26-16:4). In verse 1, after a whole chapter about the difficulties of following Him, Jesus said to His followers: ‘All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.’ Jesus says sometimes being a Christian can be really really hard. In some places in the world it is illegal to be a Christian. If you are found at a church, or reading a bible, or praying then you are put in prison. In other places it’s even worse…and that is what it was like for the first Christians. Most of the twelve disciples were killed for being Christians! Now it’s not the same here, but even here Christians get attacked In the last few years Christians have ben sacked for wearing a cross to work…or for praying with a child or a patient in hospital. Thankfully this doesn’t often happen, but what does happen is people can be mean when they find out you trust Jesus. Friends, people at school and people at work, can laugh, make fun, and ignore you, if they find out you’re a Christian. Wherever you live it can be hard being a Christian, but then all of the most worthwhile things in life are! Into this difficult environment Jesus gives us a job to do. He says, verse 27: ‘you also must testify’. We are to tell others about Jesus. We are to tell them that God loves them, and wants them in His family. He wants to care for them and guide them. And when He came to earth He died on the cross, to deal with all of our sins and enable us to be forgiven, so nothing will stand in the way of us being in His family. It sounds easy, but it’s not, because people don’t like it. People hate being told that they need to be forgiven! People hate being told that they should listen to God. And so they laugh at, make fun of, make life difficult for, or arrest Christians for doing what Jesus told them to do! 

So, we have to ask ourselves ‘Why would we do this?’ Why not keep our heads down take a sit on the sofa of life and just enjoy being in Jesus’ family ourselves? Well I want you to think of someone you love, and then think about what you’d do for them because you love them. This week it is my wife’s, Natalie’s, birthday. I spent ages researching presents when I could have been relaxing. I paid for the presents myself,  I then went into town and bought flowers, wrapping paper, and a card. I then spent more time, wrapping Natalie’s presents; all in all it was pretty hard work. So why did I do it? Out of love! You work hard for people you love. It’s hard but necessary… all the most worthwhile things in life are! The same is true as Christians. If we love Jesus we will tell other people about Him because we want to show Him our love and we want to make Him happy. If we love other people we will tell them about Jesus because  we want to show them we love them, we want the best for them, and we want to make them happy. The Good News about Jesus is the best news in the world. In one of my children’s bibles—in fact the one I use for school—it puts this truth in a really lovely way. In the account of Jesus sending the spirit at Pentecost the disciples are doing what Jesus tells us to in today’s reading the children’s bible puts it like this: ‘Peter spoke in a loud voice, so everyone could hear: ‘Jesus died for you!’ he said. ‘Because he loves you. But God made him alive again. He has rescued you!’ People stopped. And listened. The words sank down deep into their hearts and worked like a medicine that makes you well. Like the antidote to a deadly poison. Like a kiss that wakes you from a deep sleep.’ That is why we’re called to go and testify, to go and tell people about Jesus, because God’s words about God’s actions are like a medicine that makes you well. Being a Christian, and telling people about Jesus is hard but necessary! But wait there is more good news, because Jesus doesn’t ask us to do this on our own. At football we have a coach to help us; at dancing we have a dance teacher to help us; at cubs there are leaders to help us. And in a similar way Jesus sends us a helper, verse 26: ‘When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father–the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father–he will testify about me.’ Jesus sends God the Holy Spirit that first Pentecost to help His followers to do what He asked them to. And every time someone becomes a Christian Jesus sends the Spirit into their hearts too so they can go and tell others as well. Of course, just like a biological family we also have each other—we also have the Christian team—the Church to help us as well. We do this hard but necessary work together with the help of the Holy Spirit; and together with the Holy Spirit we go and tell a world—that is not listening and often doesn’t want to know—the news that: ’Works like a medicine that makes you well. Like the antidote to a deadly poison. Like a kiss that wakes you from a deep sleep.’ We do all of this because we love Jesus, and because we love other people. It’s hard but necessary as all the worthwhile things in the world are. So let’s pray for God’s help to do just that. Amen. (from Fr Mike).