Podcast Reflections

Reflection for the Lesser Festival of the Saints and Martyrs of England

Listen to a reflection on John 17.18-23, the gospel reading set for the Lesser Festival of the Saints and Martyrs of England, Monday 8 November 2021

John 17.18-23

Jesus looked up to heaven and said, ‘As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

‘I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.’


Since March 2020 many people have been struggling with the different levels of restriction that have been imposed upon our lives by politicians and scientists. One of the things that seem to have caused the greatest distress has been our inability to travel. Holidays, business trips, family visits, including the celebration of significant life events, and simple leisure trips have been on hold for a long time. For many there has been no travelling for almost two years.

The effect of this enforced lack of mobility can be seen in the way many have lost their confidence and have suffered reduced mobility. A significant number of people whose pre-pandemic life included regular trips out, visits to family and friends and the occasional holiday are now housebound, fearful of the virus and uncertain of their own ability to safely walk even to local shops.

In the light of this rather gloomy snapshot of contemporary life, we need to consider how we might respond to the opening words in today’s reading: As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. What do these words mean to you? As a member of the clergy, I am expected to be out and about. I spend a lot of time travelling as I seek to share the Good News with others and engage in pastoral ministry. But … how does this work when we are forced to lock ourselves away?

Whilst our shopping and vacation hopes and expectations may have been curtailed over the last eighteen months, the same is not true of the mission and ministry of Christ’s Church. Clergy and church communities have had to find new ways to honour Christ’s call by making themselves visible in a world of apprehension and fear. This website is an example of this. From small beginnings and a strong desire to minister to those who had been isolated from physical contact with their churches we have striven to find a new way of letting people know that Christ is journeying alongside them.

Faith has remained strong and a desire to share God’s love has resulted in some amazing examples of Christian ministry. People have created new ways of caring for each other, just as we have created new ways of sharing the word of God. Of course, there are those who have emerged from the restrictions even more entrenched than they were before. For many of them the last eighteen months has simply been a time of hibernation, a time of turning their backs on Christ’s call.

Today we are reminded that, no matter what the circumstances, we are called by Christ to allow ourselves to be sent into the world. This may look different from earlier times, but the call is just as strong. Let us pray for the strength to respond to that call, and let us give thanks for the God-given imagination and skill which makes it all possible, even if isolation is still imposed upon us.