Summary: A sermon for the 5th Sunday of Easter, series C

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5th Sunday of Easter, May 2, 2010, Series C

Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, we give you thanks for the gift of your Son, Jesus the Christ, who through his life, death and resurrection, was true to your will, and gave us the opportunity to know the extent of your redeeming love for us. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, empower us to grow in faith and in the knowledge of your grace, share your love with those around us. This we ask in Christ’s holy name. Amen.

The following sermon is a rewrite of a sermon published by Rolf E. Aaseng, Mapumulo, Natal, South Africa, Augsburg Sermons, 1982.

Glory! Now that’s an old fashioned word. Most of us hardly ever use it in our conversations – except in church. Here, every Sunday we respond to the announcement of the Gospel lesson by singing “Glory to you, O Lord.” And of course, every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer we say, “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever.”

Does the word “glory” have any meaning to us when we use it in these ways? Or is it just one of those ritual words that we repeat without even thinking? What does “glory” mean? What pictures go through your mind we hear this word?

Maybe this word invokes something shining: a brilliant light, like the sun. Or perhaps we might think of the glories of nature or a glorious sunset – something of striking beauty. Jesus spoke of Solomon in all of his glory, suggesting splendor, wealth, richness, and authority. Or perhaps we might think of some glorious occasion – a great celebration, a moment of overflowing joy.

Glory may suggest to us power, or perfection, or some great and extraordinary distinction. Our national flag is called Old Glory, recalling heroic exploits or honor for our nation. When something is glorious we think of it as good, much admired and highly desirable. Or, again in church language, it is worthy of praise.

All of these qualities can be associated with God. God is the most glorious of all. So to acknowledge that God has glory, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer, is certainly proper. But consider what Jesus says in our Gospel lesson for this morning. “Now the Son of man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and will glorify him at once.”

Jesus had just sent Judas away to carry out his intention of betrayal. Just before he did that, he said to the disciples, “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified.” And the hour that he was talking about was the time of his death, for Jesus went on to say, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

Here, in what has been called his last discourse with his disciples, Jesus clearly indicates that he is going to glorify God by his death. Of course, Jesus lived his life glorifying God, and he was certainly glorified by his resurrection also. But there could be no resurrection without his death. By his death, Jesus called attention to the glory of God. He revealed what kind of God we have – a God who loves the world enough, to not only send him among as his incarnate Word, to reveal his will for our life. But Jesus also revealed that God’s love is so strong that his incarnate Son would accept death on the cross, as a sacrifice of love to redeem us from sin. That is a love that truly deserves to be called glorious. In Christ’s loving self-sacrifice, we see demonstrated the glory of God.

But as Jesus glorified God in his oneness with his Father’s will, which led to his death, so we can glorify God by remaining true to Jesus. In the midst of telling his disciples of his coming glory, he also said to them, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”

Note that Jesus calls this a “new commandment.” It was not new in content. The Jews had always had the command to love their neighbor. But it is new in purpose. The old command to love said: This is the way to remain God’s covenant people – to obey the law. Do this and you will live as a member of God’s people.”

The new commandment has nothing to do with becoming a child of God. The sequence of events in the Gospels tell us that Jesus the Christ, the incarnate Son of God has forgiven us and given us new life as children of God before we even thought of obeying him. The new commandment does not tell us, “Do this if you want to be a child of God,” but rather, “Do this if you want to glorify God as one of his redeemed children.”

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