The Greeks, a narrative sermon ( a blog from April 2006 !)

It is rare that I revisit a sermon, but while collating material for this years Holy Week devotions I came across this:

light to darkNarrative sermon- The Greeks

John 20 vs 20-33

The air was electric with excitement, something amazing, something special was going on…this was not just any passover, though it had certainly started off that way. Every year hundreds of people descended upon Jerusalem for the festival, many of them travelling a long way just like us had come early hoping to find affordable lodgings…

From the moment we arrived we’d sensed something was going on, there were rumours about someone being raised from his tomb, not his death bed his tomb, alive and well when he should have started to rot!!!

Then this morning we heard the whispers, whispers that soon turned into cheers and shouts, Jesus was coming Jesus who raised the dead was coming, riding on a donkey right into Jerusalem…

We ran with the crowd who by this time were singing and waving palm branches, calling out at the top of their voices, blessed is he, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord..hosanna. hosanna in the highest…

The Pharisees weren’t pleased, this upstart was ruining the festivities, drawing all the attention to himself and away from the temple, away from their carefully guarded coffers, but the people didn’t seem to care and just kept on chanting and singing God’s praises…

Could this be the Messiah, the anointed one, who else but God’s own son could raise the dead???

We had to see him…had to meet him….we had to know…

I’m sure it wasn’t by chance that we bumped into Philip, he knew him you see, had followed him with Andrew…so we said we’d like to meet him, we wouldn’t take up much of his time we just wanted to know, had to know if the rumours were true…

Philip thought it would be OK … after all Jesus was different to the other teachers, he made a point of getting to know the poor and the sick, the outcasts and sinners…but he checked with Andrew anyway, and the two of them went and found Jesus… we followed at a discreet distance..hopefully.

They told him of our request, that we didn’t want to take up his valuable time, just to see him, we had to know…

Imagine our surprise then at his answer, a strange look came over his face, almost as if the request had been a signal, he started talking about grains of wheat, about death and new life, about how his followers must give themselves completely to the way, not serving themselves, not loving themselves…

He spoke as if to God asking an intimate question…

“Father should I ask you to save me from this hour?”

Then firmly resolved he said – “”NO Father glorify your name…”

As if in answer the heavens rumbled, like thunder, but we plainly heard the voice… the voice from heaven…

“I have glorified it and I will glorify it again”

Jesus turned to the astonished onlookers and said

“This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgement on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgement on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself…”

We were amazed, he seemed to be talking about his own death, indicating that he would be crucified…we were horrified…how could he possibly think that his death would bring glory to God?

Why would God endorse such madness when Jesus had the power to heal, the power to raise people from the dead?

A hush fell upon the crowd, an awkward silence…then they began questioning him ….disturbed by all they had just heard…

Jesus answers did not please them… he spoke of a darkness soon to come, and the need to walk in the light…

Then he withdrew, leaving the crowd bemused and agitated… we felt the same …our questions had not been answered… we were left with more questions…

Who was this man?

Why did he seem so firmly set on dying?

Who or what had answered him… could it truly have been the voice of God?

Even his own followers seemed perplexed!

That was all over a month ago since that time  we have seen his words come true… we couldn’t bear to leave Jerusalem, to go home…for this man this Jesus was crucified just as he’d predicted.

The sky went black that day and an earthquake shook the ground… even the temple was shaken and they say the curtain to the holy of holies was ripped in two… top to bottom… and for a while the way to God seemed open…

Then there were the rumours that he was alive, his followers who had scattered drew together again, meeting and praying, curious we followed these events closely… trying to understand what was going on…

Then one day they came spilling out of the room where they met, it was after their early morning prayer meeting… they might have been drunk… all talking at once…laughing and shouting.. smiling and rejoicing…

They soon drew a crowd, such behaviour first thing in the morning, someone called out;

They’ve been drinking… they are drunk…look at them…fools

But someone else cried no, no listen they are speaking sense.. .. and so it was that these uneducated men had suddenly become linguists…

Peter stood up amongst them and called for order…he went on to explain what had happened…how the Holy Spirit had been given…he explained Jesus to us, his life, his teaching, his death and resurrection… and how Jesus life could live on in us if we wanted it to…

He called us to a new way of living, a way full of life, a true way, a holy way

He called us to turn our backs on our selfishness, our petty wants and desires

He explained that Jesus had died that we might live, that Jesus was alive again and that the mighty power that raised him from the dead had fallen upon his followers that morning as they were praying…

And now they were to share the message with the whole world….

Imagine you are one of those Greeks…

What things confuse you about Jesus?

What things fascinate you?

Imagine you are there that Pentecost morning, remember Jesus words… unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains just a single grain, but if it dies it bears much fruit…

Hear his words to you…

I have come that you might have life… life in all its fullness…

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

“Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me.

“If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you.  I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!

Jesus words are true today just as they were 2,000 years ago, his offer of life still stands…he died that we might live, dying that everyone might live if only they would recognise the truth…

Jesus calls us to be a part of the solution to this worlds problems, calls us to follow him in giving our lives, to be living sacrifices… he calls us to recognise our failings and weaknesses, our strengths and gifts and to bring our whole selves to him for he wants us to use our strengths and gifts to his glory… and by grace he covers our weaknesses and shows himself strong…

He calls us to respond to his love everyday, for it was love for you and me that held him to the cross not nails….

Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains just a single grain; but if it dies it bears much fruit…

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Set me free; a prayer

You can’t,

you will fail ( again),

don’t try it’s not worth it,

you’re not worth it,

you always get so far and give up,

you might as well give up now,


these words repeat in my mind

and batter my heart,

they have become so much a part of me

that the block my every turn…


but today I want to say no more,


Today I want to stand tall

to replace the can’t with can…

to find freedom from

my doubts and fears….


I can, but not alone…..,

make a fresh start in me O God,

set these dry bones dancing,

shape a Genesis week from

the chaos of my life,

breathe your holiness in me again,

and free me from my doubts

and fears, to live and move

in the unforced rhythms of

your grace…


Painting by Steve K

Prayer influences: Psalm 51 & Matthew 11: 28-30 ( The Message)

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He was broken open,

gave himself to brokenness, to vulnerability,

In my struggle to be whole

I forget…

I want to be strong,

to be capable,

to present a wise, unruffled face,

needing nothing,

but the truth is that

I am frail and flawed,

I am weak and far from faultless,

and my offering is one of frailty,

brokenness and vulnerability,

an imperfect gift

perfected only as it is received…


he was broken open,

this I must not forget

in my struggle to be whole….


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Dust 3

dust, from

dust, we mortals


and God breathed

are dust,

only dust, and yet

the stuff

of mountains,

moons, stars,

creations d.n.a.

runs within

our veins,

we are


our frail,


fleeting bodies sourced

from eternity,

to eternity

born of divine imagination

made in


called beyond time,




deeply loved,


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show me…

Show me myself,

show me my deepest desire,

strip away my defences,

my pretences,

my excuses

and show me myself,

lead me within,

through my own eternal desert

to connect with the

source of life,

no longer distracted by other


by the lies of comfort,

of the demands that clamour,

 show me myself,

show me that I am loved,

sought after,



and grant me the power to look

love in the face,

and see at last,

mirrored in my face,

a glimpse of your glory!


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no masks, no hiding places…

No masks,

no hiding places here,

as the desert wind rips

across my soul

exposing my

struggle and despair,

here I have reached the end

of myself,

my resources spent,

my hope dimmed,

my heart and head and hands

empty of all but one question…

can I be loved?


Can I be loved?

Loved in my brokeness

and pain,

no masks,

no hiding places?


I will hold out the question

and wait,

wait for the wind to ease,

the dust to settle,

though I sense the answer

even in my turmoil,

the still small voice that

echoes yet again,

you are love,

and you are loved,

no masks,

no hiding places

will protect you

from this fierce, wild truth !


no masks,

no hiding places…



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Yearning… ( a prayer)

I yearn for you,

will you meet me

in my yearning?

Will you hold me,

comfort me,

in the depths of your love,

where my desire for

lesser comforts dies away…


How I long for them to die,

yet so often they hold me,

“Just a morsel, just one sip, one more…”

The voices are soft and enticing…

“it can’t hurt, it won’t matter..

you can start again tomorrow…”

” tomorrow, tomorrow…”

But tomorrow never comes. ..


So pushing last the clamour,

I cling to my deepest desire. …


O Spirit,

O Christ,

O Mother and Father of all…

meet me in my desire I pray…

meet me in my yearning,

set me free….

even from myself….


Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11: 29-30)


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