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I Am The Father - Football Supporters
I no longer go to football games but when I did I was always fearful that I might end up in the wrong part of the ground and then say the wrong thing at the wrong moment. So, if I had been at yesterday afternoon’s game, I could easily imagine myself being in the wrong part of the stadium. If that had been the case I would not, you will be pleased to know, have pretended to support Wimbledon but neither would I have declared for Luton Town, but rather I would have tried to adopt the profile of a lover of football and a general follower of the beautiful game (which in my case would have been an effort in itself).
It feels like that sometimes when you find yourself in an ecumenical context; say at a school assembly or simply at a party with Muslim or Jewish friends or acquaintances. It is a lot easier, in such a case, and in many other environments it is also politically correct these days, to talk about God in general and good spiritual well being rather than to declare for Jesus, or, to put it another way, it is often more prudent that we might think to keep our Luton scarf under our coat.
During the last of our Lent group meetings, we were challenged head on about this by one of our members. “When I listen to you,” the person said, “I hear you talk about good neighbourliness, about loving one another, about being generous to the poor or the disenfranchised but,” the person continued, “many other good people might say the same, what is it that is distinctively Christian about you lot?”
Well, here it is. Our Gospel reading takes place immediately following the last Supper, where Jesus is preparing his disciples for his departure. Firstly he comforts them, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” He then goes on to say what will be different, what will change, who he is and what it all means.
“If you know me you will know my Father also” Jesus says, “From now on you do know him and have seen him.” This idea is repeated as Philip is rebuked: “Have I been with you all this time and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” and “No-one comes to the Father except through me.”
It must be, I think, because of the difficulty of the idea; this concept that God and Jesus are at the same time one and two (and later of course that with the Holy Spirit they are one and three) that it is so intensely taught at this moment, just as Jesus is to leave, he is determined that this point should be understood. It must be because of the difficulty of the idea, of the glazed look perhaps that came over the disciples faces, that Jesus seems to accept that not everyone will “get it” for he says, “Believe me, that the Father is in me, but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves.”
The works themselves, how many there were: The healing of the blind, the lame the lepers; the command over the forces of nature, the storm, the fish, the water into wine; the bringing back to life of Jarius’ daughter, of Lazarus, of the widows son; the teaching and the humility. Remember too, that God himself has just washed the disciples’ feet.
Generations before thought the way to understand God, to come close to God, to see the Father was through study observation and by following the law, but from now on we will come close to God through study observation and following Jesus. And this is distinctly Christian; we believe that Jesus is the son of God, indeed is God. Now if that is so, then logically you see, God can only reveal himself, as he is. God cannot cloak or dissemble, we may only be able to discern and see only the tiniest fraction of who God is at any time, but that fraction will be seen and learnt through Jesus, who came to earth expressly to show himself to us, to live and to die and to be resurrected so that we might see the way the light and the truth through his works and our continuing faith.