The Parish of Sutton with Seaford

1 John 5.9-13 (May 12th 2024 preached at 8am). (Photo is of model yachts racing, my job was to watch for illegal contact!)

We’ve been enjoying the First letter of John for about 5 weeks.

We’ve seen a constant reminder that we are to Love One Another. And this sermon will say the same thing!

John reminds us that he was a witness to Jesus, to God incarnate, the Son of God, the Christ.

John saw the Light of the World that the darkness doesn’t understand, cannot overcome.

John saw the Life, the One who said ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life’

So he says I am not teaching you anything new, just hold to the old truth about Jesus and you’ll be fine – and be aware of Scams, aware of Heretics who try to tell you things about Jesus – to lure you away from the Church.

So stay close to the Life, stay close to the Light,

stay close to the Love

John is keen to make sure that we understand that we know that Jesus loves us.

And yes we make mistakes so John calls us to not let that worry us but to simply Repent, Confess, to let Jesus purify your souls. Understand how the Cross, the Blood, atones for our sins and brings us into the life, light, and love of Jesus Christ.

So over this epistle, we have these waves of Light and Life and Love washing over us.

Particularly in today’s readings we have the wave of Life washing over us.

The reading started off by asking ‘Who do we trust?’ where do we get our news from, where do we get our values and wisdom from? The Message version reads – “If we take human testimony at face value how much more should we be reassured when God gives testimony as he does here, testifying concerning His Son”.

John is saying that God is calling us to believe in the life-giving truth and the enabling power of the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

And the way to keep close to that life is in reading our bibles. I do it in two ways. I read about three chapters of bible per day, I cant say that I always remember what I’ve read but I know that it does my soul good and it draws me close to God in worship and prayer.

The other thing I do, helped by having to preach, is I focus on a simple short reading and mull it over for a week or so. You have in your notice sheet and in the magazine the two readings that we will be preaching on so you could have a read of those scriptures in the week before and ask yourself – I wonder what James or Derreck will preach on for that. And it might be that you’ll get stuck on a phrase and think ‘I wonder what that means’ though I often find that if I just sit with a piece of scripture and keep coming back to it – that it will feed me.

John in his first letter is calling us to be close to Jesus, close to the testimony of God, and reading our bibles is a good way to do that.

One of the helpful things about reading and reading your bible is that it will help you have a clearer idea about God.

I tend to default to an understanding that God only loves me when I’m good, or IF I’m good, or when I’m feeling holy or religious, or when I am singing songs – we forget too quickly that our Gospel is all about God’s grace, God’s gift.

In this last chapter we have 5 times a reminder that God has given us his Holy Spirit, his eternal life, his life, his understanding so that we may know and accept God’s testimony about His Son.

Reading God’s truth, staying close to God in scripture, enables – says the Gospel reading – God to work His sanctifying work inside of us – making us holy, making us the people that God has made us to be.

And that’s all part of Jesus’ prayer for us to be One, for us to be Protected, and for us to know Joy, God’s Joy,  Jesus’ Joy.

It’s a gift.

We’re not good at receiving gifts. Perhaps because we only get gifts on birthdays, Christmas day, maybe at Easter – that’s about it, maybe Mothering Sunday, Father’s Day, – but don’t push your luck there. So gifts are rare.

But then God comes and gives us this gift of Life.

I’m glad that John says the Gift of Life – because the Gift of Eternal Life has a tendency to distract us. I’ll come to that but for the moment lets focus on the Life.

God’s gift of Life to us is a Gift to enjoy now.

In the Gospel Jesus prays that we might know His joy.

Gifts have a way of doing that. You cannot earn joy. Its something you can only receive. And often for us to receive Joy we need to have an open heart.

God gives us Life and Joy and that is to be lived in the here and now. We do that by obeying the one command that Jesus gave us to Love one another.

So, there you go here’s another sermon calling us to love one another.

God gives us Life. And this is more that the life of being alive, this is the life that is lived from knowing God’s love and light and joy in you.

And that starts now. This is not about life after death, this is about life now.

It is not a Joy that makes everything alright. There is still grief and pain and anger. But this Joy gives us the strength to rage against it, to pray into it, to know we are held, that we are heard, that we are loved.

And we receive this life, this joy, the way we receive any gift, in simply laying out your hands – as you will shortly do to receive Holy Communion – small tokens of God’s love for you – and as you do so add to it a prayer of Yes please Lord, more of your Life and Joy in me please, and a Thank you Lord that you are praying for my protection, for me to know more of your love and joy in my life. thank you.

Now add to that John’s reminder that God gives us Eternal Life.

This is the life that we receive now, and live now,

and it is a love that we cannot be separated from.

This is the light that the darkness cannot overcome,

this is the Life that will carry us through this troublous life and through death and to life beyond.

This Eternal Love shows us that God will not give up on you or me, that we will be transformed, that there is more,

and that the Saints who have gone before us have known, and do know and still enjoy. And that is a wonderful mystery.

So in the meantime, Read God’s testimony, your Holy Bible a chapter a day. Receive God’s Life – it’s a gift, its transforms us to give us the light and joy that we need to live the life God calls us to. And so we live out that life by obeying the command: Love one another. Amen.


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