Thy kingdom Come Ascension to Pentecost Novena
The God who understands
1 John 4:11-12 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.
The disciples were not a naturally cohesive group of people. Left to themselves they were unlikely to have chosen to set up business together or even share a holiday. Matthew was a tax collector working for the occupying Roman authorities. Simon the Zealot belonged to a group that opposed paying taxes to Caesar, some of whose members had been involved in a revolt.
James and John, partners in a family fishing business on Lake Galilee, were known as ‘sons of thunder’, probably because of their fiery tempers and desire for power. This same John who refers to himself as ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved in the Gospel that bears his name becomes the ‘apostle of love’ in this Letter. His life has been utterly transformed, his character turned inside out by his relationship with the Lord Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.
We see divisions all around us: gender, race, language, education, upbringing, nationality. Things that in themselves could contribute to the diversity of God’s creation become grounds for misunderstanding, strife, enmity, and even violence.
Our Heavenly Father, like a master artist, has a palette of rich and varied colours which are designed to paint a beautiful picture of His creation but which, in our sinfulness and selfishness, pride and fear, we fashion into an unholy mess. In this mess, so often, the poor pay the greatest price of our inability to be God’s reliable gardeners in His world.
John calls us, in today’s verse, to be defined by the love of God: not by anything else. St Paul puts it very plainly in Galatians 3:28:
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Pray that your five may find their identity in who they are in Christ.
Living the kingdom must mean building churches and communities where ‘Love one another’ doesn’t mean merely liking people who are like us. We are called to something much more radical, much more attractive. We are designed to be a community of servants: serving and being served by each other across all the manmade barriers that so often divide and discriminate. The Very Revd Bob Key
Note: The Thy Kingdom Come Novena for 2023 is focused on verses from St John’s First Letter. Thy Kingdom Come is an annual invitation and encouragement to Christians and Churches, across the world, to seek the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that we might live out and share the Kingdom of God. – The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby & The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell