As a community separated by a virus but drawn together by faith, we worship today:
- Many of us are praying at 10am every Sunday
- We are joining with worship from all over the country watching BBC1 for Sunday Worship (10:45am) when The Rt Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Bishop of Dover, leads a service for VE Day from Hereford Cathedral, in a programme filmed before the closure of all church buildings was announced (with hymns recorded for Songs of Praise in 2017)
- Songs of Praise (1:15pm)
- Revd Graeme Holdsworth takes Holy Communion at 6pm, in his study on behalf of our community
- Morning Prayer is said every day
We have an interactive sermon today, something we couldn’t really do during a typical Sunday service. What is helpful about this type of interactive sermon is that it can be done by young and old alike. There is as much to get out of a sermon like this as you have the time and energy to put in. This sermon asks questions about how well you know yourself and what you know about Jesus.
Philip (one of Jesus’ followers) said, “Show us the Father and we will be satisfied”… and herein lies the essence of this interactive sermon.
The Collect for the day, and the Gospel reading are read by Valerie.
Interactive Sermon 10th May 2020
Jesus said, “If you know me, you will know my Father also”
This is an interactive sermon! I hope it works, to take part you will need some paper and something to write or draw with: use whatever you like to write or draw, pens, crayons, paint… anything that you will enjoy using. When you are ready…
My first question for you to reflect on is: “Who are you?”
This may sound like a very simple question, for example, I’m Graeme. But I’m not just a name. You are getting to know me as a Vicar, but I’m not just a Vicar. I’m a husband and Dad. I’m an Analytical Chemist. I have worked all over the world and been influenced by friends and colleagues from the USA to China – my story is complex. What is your story? Who are you?
Take your time, there is no rush – we can’t do this on a normal Sunday… paint or write or doodle something that helps you to answer the questions.
This question, “who are you”, is something that we don’t have to worry about on a daily basis. “Who am I” doesn’t tidy the house, pay the bills or do the gardening… so this level of reflection can get pushed to the back of our lives until a time of crisis.
If you have taken the time to do this, what is in front of you is very personal. It may be joyful, or it may be painful. It may be how you feel today, but tomorrow it might be different. If you look at what is in front of you, my prayers are with you because I believe that God is seeing this too. God sees the pain and the joy and the trouble and the love, and God is with you.
‘God is with us’. That is famously one of Jesus’ names, ‘Emmanuel’: God is with us.
Which brings me to the second question… about Jesus: “Who is Jesus?”
We are surrounded by images of Jesus: not just the blond haired, blue eyed Jesus of the pre-Raphaelites, but also the baby Jesus, the young Jewish boy staying too long at the temple when his parents have gone. How about Jesus laughing, or weeping, or riding on a donkey, or washing feet. Then there is Jesus in pain or wrapped in burial cloths… or mysteriously, Jesus ascending to the Father.
This is another simple question which is difficult to answer. I’m not checking your answers, but please take the time to write, list, doodle or create some art in response.
It is interesting that a common theme in the images of Jesus is his humanity. Jesus isn’t depicted as an abstract idea, but as a real and physical person. In our Gospel reading, Jesus said, “If you know me, you know my Father also”, but the disciples, who clearly knew Jesus, who had been learning from him as he taught them and taught the crowds, as he did practical things like heal people, or walk on water, or change water into wine… even though they had been with Jesus all this time, they were still confused. Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied”.
Jesus’ reply was explicit, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father”
And this leads to my final questions and a chance for one last reflection in this interactive sermon.
Put the two pictures together, the image of you and the image of Jesus. How do they relate? Are there similarities or differences? What do you see? Do you recognise yourself? Is it the whole picture, or is there more? What might be missing?
My prayer for you today is that you will know yourself better, and know that you are loved by God. No matter what you have written down about yourself, however you feel about yourself: God loves you completely.
May you will grow in the knowledge and love of God, which has been revealed in Jesus.
If there is anything that you need to talk about as a result of this interactive sermon, please don’t hesitate to call or email confidentially. These reflective exercises can be very difficult emotionally – but remember that no one is judging you: not me, and least of all God.