O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Risen, ascended Lord,
as we rejoice at your triumph,
fill your Church on earth with power and compassion,
that all who are estranged by sin
may find forgiveness and know your peace,
to the glory of God the Father.
The Lord is in his holy temple;
the Lord’s throne is in heaven.
His eyes behold,
his eyelids try every mortal being.
The Lord tries the righteous as well as the wicked,
but those who delight in violence his soul abhors.
Upon the wicked he shall rain coals of fire and burning sulphur;
scorching wind shall be their portion to drink.
For the Lord is righteous;
he loves righteous deeds,
and those who are upright shall behold his face.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; he was the one who had reclined next to Jesus at the supper and had said, ‘Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?’ When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, what about him?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!’ So the rumour spread in the community that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?’
This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
… the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
John’s gospel opens with the famous words: In the beginning was the Word. Today’s reading, from the end of the same gospel, underlines the inadequacy of our human words. The Word, which was with God, and which was God far exceeds the capacity of our human understanding. That Word far exceeds our capacity to record the totality of all that could be said.
Jesus came into the world to share in every moment of human existence from birth to death. Jesus, the Word, came to forge a new covenant between God and humanity. Jesus, born as a vulnerable baby and put to death as a common criminal, brought light, hope and redemption for the entire human race, the human race that God created in his own image.
Throughout John’s gospel we read of signs and wonders, of teaching and miraculous healings, of the love of God living and breathing in this world. How could anyone hope to do more than capture just a little of the essence of the omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience of God moving among us?
Of course, being human we try. We like to wrap things up in our own words, that is, we like to place the straitjacket of human understanding upon that which is far, far beyond our ability to truly comprehend. Today’s reading begins in this way. Peter and John (the beloved disciple) have travelled together through much, but now their ways are to diverge. In a very human way, there seems to be a need to know what lies in store for each of them. Through a misunderstanding of Jesus’ words, the rumour spreads that John is to live for ever. Already the power of gossip is undermining that which is so good because it is rooted in God.
Today’s reading makes it clear to us that we can never know the true story of Jesus Christ in its entirety because our puny, human minds are too small, too limited. We are simply called to accept what we have heard and to go forward in faith. That call is as true today as it was at the end of John’s gospel. But, to accept such truth, and to go forward in true faith, demands that we entrust ourselves to God alone, no matter what he may have in store for us.
Let us pray that we might not be distracted by the ‘gossip’ which seeks to undermine faith. Let us pray that we might accept the changes and chances that mark out our own paths of discipleship. Let us pray that we might, day by day, learn more and more of the truth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Let us pray that we might come to play our part in sharing our knowledge and experience of Jesus Christ with all we meet.
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray to God, whose word has gone out through the Church to all the world.
Empower your Church always to proclaim the saving message of the Gospel. May the Holy Spirit who inspired St John the Evangelist be our guide into all truth.
Open the way for the spread of the Gospel into places where people still live in ignorance of its message. Bless those who work through translation and publishing to make the faith more widely known.
Grant that in our families, our friendships and all our living we may fulfil the teaching of the Gospel. Bless our reading of scripture and lead us always into new paths of understanding.
Come to the aid of those who long for Bibles and cannot obtain them. Comfort and relieve all who suffer for their work of distributing Bibles in hostile lands.
We give thanks for those whose lives in this world were led by the light of the Gospel. May they who loved the word of truth rejoice for ever in the presence of the living Word.
Rejoicing in the eternal message of salvation, we offer our prayers in the name of Christ.
Prayer for the week
forgive what we have been;
sanctify what we are;
and order what we shall be.
What we do not know, teach us;
what we do not have, give us;
what we are not, make us;
for Jesus Christ’s sake.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.
Christ is the one who sends,
his story to declare;
who calls his servants friends
and gives them news to share.
His truth proclaim
in all the earth,
his matchless worth
and saving name.
Timothy Dudley-Smith (b. 1926)