A man of surpassing holiness.

Signpost for Sunday 29 May 2106: Isa 42:10-20; 2 Cor 5:14-19 or Acts 10:34-43; John 15:9-17 or Matt 7:24-29 or Luke 6:46-49 or John 17:6-26

It’s that time of year again down-under: apologies to those of you who aren’t from New Zealand. The readings we have down here this week aren’t the same as those in the northern hemisphere or in any other country.*

Last time I wrote about these readings I concentrated on John 15:9-17, but as there is a choice, this year I had a look at the other reading from John.

John 17:6-26 is what scholars call ‘the high priestly prayer”. It is a representation of an intimate conversation between Yeshua and God. But verse 20-21 in particular is Jesus’ prayer for you and me: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.

We have no way of knowing if Jesus ever actually spoke these words. In the same way we have no way of knowing how much of the New Testament is factual. Recently I was reading one of my favourite writers, Marilynne Robinson+. She says the New Testament “is a story written down in various forms by writers whose purpose was first of all to render the sense of a man of surpassing holiness, whose passage through the world was understood only after his death, to have revealed the way of God toward humankind.”

I personally think those are very wise words. What do you think?

Paul

+ Wondrous Love’ from ‘When I was a Child I Read Books’ published by Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 2014. If you haven’t ever read Marilynne Robinson, I recommend you read her novel, Gilead.

* It’s Tikanga Sunday – a celebration of a unique way of worshiping – embracing three different world views, customs, cultures and protocols; those of Maori, Pacific Islanders and Pakeha (European settlers).

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