The Parish of Sutton with Seaford

(1 John 5.1-6) (Photo is of a kind fella attaching a bat box / swift box to my roof)

You are a keeper. When you see someone later and they say Oh what did you do over the weekend, you can say Well I went to Church and the preacher told me that I am a keeper. And then see if you can add: You should come next week!

You are, you are a keeper.


St John – we’ve been working through his first epistle over the last few weeks and so you wont be surprised to hear the undertone of the call for you to do what Jesus commanded us to do – namely to Love One Another. Love one another.


As we get to the first part of Chapter 5 John wants you to know something of the affect of God’s love on you and in you and the word that he uses is Overcome. You will overcome the world.


So lets start here. In knowing the love that Jesus has for you, you, receiving that love and living that love, that makes you an Overcomer – you will not be over come and that’s good because for many of us there’s a lot on our plates at the moment, and we’re struggling to keep our heads above the water, and we’re peddling as fast as we can, and I hope you’re appreciating my mixed up metaphors.


We are doing the best we can but there seems to be a lot of World out there that wants to pile up the stresses of life, the anxiety of climate change, of government, of economy, the frailty of age, our ongoing relationships and friendships and keeping on top of who we may have upset recently, and just Life can be really exhausting.


But St John is assuring us that we will overcome the world.

When he says The World what he means by that is all the stresses and strains that the World puts on us.

So much of it are the temptations, passing fads, quick wins and short cuts that we think will help, even if just momentarily, but John says Don’t focus on that, keep the faith, hold on to Jesus because Jesus is holding on to you. You are a keeper.


It starts off for us in Worship – Everyone who loves the Father love His Child as well – so that’s a good place for you to start your day. To remember that no matter what happens this day you know that you love God and that God loves you.


So when you wake up – instead of muttering: Oh good lord its morning. I’d like you say “Morning Lord! Where are we going today?” and the important word there is We. Where are we going. Because you know that wherever you go this day, the love of the Father, the love of the Son, will be going with you.

You are keeping hold of Jesus and Jesus is keeping hold of you. You are a keeper.


John says there are ways in which we can encourage our own faith. And there are ways in which we can encourage each other in the faith. And we do that by Keeping the commands of God.

I was trying to think what the Commands are that Jesus gave us. I can only really think of one, but I’ve thought of a couple of others and maybe you can think of some that I’ve not thought of.


So: Love one another. That’s the command.

IF we have received God’s love in us, then that should help. If we are struggling to love one another, then maybe we need to come back to God in worship and refresh our love for the Father and the Son, receive again God’s love for you and me.

Love one another. And that’s not just about hugs and warm feelings, there’s a practicality about it if you can see something that you can do to lighten another’s burdens, to be an answer to their prayer.


Often we don’t see it, but sometimes we do. So Love one another. You’re a keeper. And it turns out that you are too, and you and you, you’re a keeper.


You’ll be glad to know that Jesus does not command us to be fruitful. You can’t produce fruit on command, its not how it works. But you can obey Jesus when He says Remain in me, Abide in me. When Jesus is our source of joy and peace and strength then we are living in Jesus, and allowing His love to flow through us, to bring us inner healing, to help us to live a life that is a blessing.


So maybe another command of Jesus is to Remain in me.

That’s a good command. Worship a little, pray a little, sing a little, read a little bible. Let yourself be never very far from Jesus. Remain in me.


How about the command to Forgive. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Forgive your brother, your sister, even up to 7 times, maybe 70 times 7. So keep at it. Jesus commands us to forgive.


Its not easy, so take yourself back to the Love of God that you have received, back to worship and prayer and soaking in God’s love, and from that strength, you might be able to begin the journey of forgiveness.


There was a lovely moment in last week’s SL@7 service when in a quieter moment of worship Isabella came running up to Mark who was drumming on the cajon saying ‘Daddy, Daddy, Daddy’. He picked her up and sat her on his knee and carried on playing. (Or Sam & my study!)


We forget that we have this same access to our heavenly Father through Jesus. We’re able to just burst into God presence and interrupt whatever it is that God is doing – we have an infinite God, who is able to be infinitely focussed on you and the stresses and strifes that you’re struggling with.


You don’t need to wait until God’s diary is clear. You don’t need to wait until Sunday, until you feel religious, you don’t need to wait until you feel awful – we are allowed, welcomed, beckoned, into the presence of God – with all our sorrows and joys.


Jesus says a number of times that we should Ask, Seek, Knock, that we should pray and not give up but keep praying. And I think that this is another one of those commands that we forget – its not a command it’s a privilege. A privilege that we get to come before God whenever wherever and ask God for wisdom, for healing, for help. And we have a God who is with us, who doesn’t forget us, who is faithful, even when we have off days, even when we are faithless.  Remember you are a keeper.


John connects loving God with keeping His commands. But note where the Love started. Note that as we connect to God’s love, so that enables us to keep His commands. So maybe there’s another sense in which you and me, you are a keeper.

The commands we’re keeping so far are to Pray: to ask, seek, knock. It is to Forgive. It is to Love one another. But we also know that if we are to keep any of these commands, then allow yourselves to keep receiving the love of God.


Perhaps there is one more commandBelieve in me. John says Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God. We have in just this little reading a trinitarian faith – the Father the Son and the Spirit who testifies. Believe that Jesus came by the water and the blood, not just by the water.


Its not easy to know quite what to make of that – to say Jesus came by water and blood. All the commentaries that I read talked about the water of baptism and the blood of the cross.


Every now and then I come across a Christian who does not like the ending, they ask “Why is it called Good Friday?” (we did cover that recently) and who then focusses his/her faith on the life of Jesus, especially the nice bits – the miracles, the teaching, the winding up the religious leaders, that stuff.

But who shies away from the brutality, the betrayal, the flogging, the nails, the blood.

But Jesus has grown through all the stages of life and knows a little of our pain and sorrow and struggles. The Life of Jesus matters.


And there are times when I come across someone who seems to jump straight from Christmas to Good Friday. They see in the cross the wonderful atonement that we have in Jesus who reconciles us to the Father through the blood, our sins are forgiven, and hallelujah.


But they forget the model that Jesus gives us in His life, in how he treated others, ministered and blessed others.


St John is right to make sure that we believe in the whole of Jesus, not just in one week of His life but in the whole gospel.


Yes in the death of Jesus we see how we have become adopted children of God, we see how God has forgiven us and how God keeps us.

And in the life of Jesus we see how we are to live as Dear Children, as st John calls us, or as Jesus put it – as Friends – for that is how we shall live as Keepers.


So you, me, we will overcome this world, this life, sin and shame and death will not have the last word. But we will overcome the trials of life by living the life that stays connected to the Love of God, through knowing that God looks at you and says ‘You are a keeper’.  Amen. //

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