10th May 2020
Rev David Osborn speaks on this fifth Sunday of Easter, 10th May 2020.
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Rev David Osborn continues by reading PSalm 30
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You would think that people of mathematics and people of faith would have little in common
One is quantitative, objective and logically based
The other is qualitative, subjective and emotionally based
And that ne’er the twain should meet
But this is not true
Take the example of our gospel reading this morning: Jesus talks about God’s house having many rooms Of there being space for everyone, so even if we are a bit hazy about its location, that doesn’t matter for when we arrive there will be room for us all
And if you know anything about Maths Jesus’ words might remind you of a thought exercise first suggested by a man called David Hilbert in the 1920s
Subsequently called Hilbert’s Hotel it goes a bit like this:
Imagine a hotel that has infinite rooms which is full, what happens when a new guest turns up?
On the face of it, the answer is simple: the hotel is full………
But we know it has an infinite number of rooms so how do we accommodate our new guest?
Well what we do is we contact everyone staying in the hotel and tell them to vacate their rooms and move to the next room: If everyone does that then Room 1 becomes empty and our new guest can check in there………
Now say an infinite number of people turn up: perhaps we are like United Airlines and have overbooked big style: We weren’t expecting them, so what do we do? We need far more than just Room 1 vacant………
This time we ask all the hotel guests to move out of their rooms like this:
Room 1 goes into 2; 2 into 4, 3 into 6 and 4 into 8, 5 into 10 and so on: filling up all the even rooms
This leaves all the odd rooms available and as we know that the sequence of odd numbers is infinite, we now have enough rooms to put in an infinite number of guests….All very simple
So mathematically, Jesus is correct; God’s house can have as many rooms as you need, for it is infinite
The important thing about this story is not whether there are enough rooms in God’s house; but how we get there? Here the disciples, who if there is a wrong end of a stick will always manage to seize it, focus on the wrong things
Jesus talks about the way, and he doesn’t mean paths or even roads – which people might have thought about given the Roman occupation and their penchant for building highways No, Jesus talks about a spiritual way; not even a pilgrimage, but a spiritual journey through life that has at its heart a desire to move closer to God – using our Lord as a guide and mentor
Our Lord wants us to think about how we relate to our world, how we see the people around us and how we respond to them. Rather than looking at things a set of instructions, a check list of what has to be done, Jesus encourages us to look at life through his ministry……….
We worry too much about ourselves, what we do what we think, how we live………
Our Lord knows this, knows we have human frailties and offers us a way forward
Literally a way forward: the way is one of peace and reconciliation; of justice and mercy of kindness and compassion
It’s not an easy route, for many people find these things difficult
Which is why just doing things can never be enough
But our Lord has offered us a new option which resonates throughout the Easter season
Through his sacrifice on the cross; his death and subsequent resurrection he has put right our relationship with God, we no longer have to worry about completing all the tasks to get into the kingdom of God
For we have arrived there already; our response to this good news, the Easter message of the gospel must encourage us to try and live our lives in this knowledge
We have someone on our side, someone to look after us and support us through our journey in life
And for this we should be both thankful and excited
And, just a final thought: Ironic really; that our Lord whose mother was denied shelter on the night of his birth offers us all a room in God’s mansion; now and for evermore…..
Jesus the Way to the Father
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’
Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
Prayer for today
Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ have overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: grant that, as by your grace going before us you put into our minds good desires, so by your continual help we may bring them to good effect; through Jesus Christ our risen Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour Christ has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come; thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the
kingdom, the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.