The Glory is God


1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11, John 17:1-11

At the Busselton foreshore I watched my four grandchildren spread over the playground in the shape of a shipwreck. They laughed as they climbed through rigging and tunnels to the crow’s nest.  They squealed with delight as a slide and a ‘fireman’s pole’ brought them down in a rush of speed. They rollicked in sand; they splashed in water. The kids shouted with joy, their imaginations and bodies nourished by the playground’s brilliant design.

I look forward to the time post-Covid-19 when they may return to the ship playground.

The youngest kids, I am sure, believe that this ship was created just for them. As they grow, they will realise that the playground was built, not just for them, but for all kids who visit the foreshore, even those they don’t like! Soon enough, they will recognise that the City of Busselton, who provided the ship, provides roads and libraries and dog pounds for everyone.

Sitting there on the edge of the playground, I realise that it is all about the kids, but it is also about something much bigger: how we work together to build a community.

Today is the seventh, and last, Sunday in the Easter season when we cry, ‘Alleluia, Christ is risen!’ Our Gospel readings during the Easter season have so far traced the benefits of the resurrection for humanity and creation:

* we don’t need to be perfect to receive resurrection benefits,

* the risen Good Shepherd cares for us and provides for us,

* the Spirit of the risen Jesus comes to us as an Advocate, companion, and guide on the way.

The keyword for this Sunday is ‘glory’. Easter reveals God’s glory, and ‘we are blessed because that spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God is resting on us.’ [1 Peter 4:14].

If we were children, we might conclude that Easter is all about the godsends provided for human beings by the resurrection. It’s a gift of hope for us; it’s for us to receive eternal life; it’s for us to delight in the community of the faithful. If we were children, it would be quite in order to believe that Easter is all about us.

But we are not children and the good news of Easter is not only about us creatures. Easter is first about God and God’s work in creating a stunningly beautiful universe and blessing it as a resurrection gift for the ages to come. The glory is God’s.

We can get the order wrong. If we put humanity first, then the shadow side of humanity including our cruelty, our negligence, our selfishness can have its full impact and we war with each other and degrade the rest of creation. If we think it is all about human beings, we reap the sinful self-centredness we sow.

What Jesus teaches in today’s Gospel is that he shares in God’s glory because he, Jesus, did God’s will. The disciples – including us – share in the glory of Jesus when we put God first.   

We all like sheep are gone astray (Isaiah 53:6)


One of the tragedies of our times is the war on animals, the war we have been waging for two or three centuries, seizing their territory and subjecting them to ever more inhumane conditions.

Human activity was one of the causes of this year’s bushfires in the Eastern States which took away from koalas much of their habitat. Iconic species such as the Bengali tiger and the white rhinoceros are on the brink of extinction. Presumably the thylacine (the Tasmanian tiger) and the dodo would still be thriving in Tasmania and Mauritius if human beings had not ravaged their living space.

Only a few wild animals thrive under the relentless expansion of human activity. Mobs of kangaroos near my town relish in the green pasture and endless water supplies human beings have created.

We clobber our domestic animals too. In the past decades, more and more cattle have been squeezed into feed-lots, unable to exercise and terrified by their imprisonment. Battery hens are confined to less than a square metre and never see the sky or scratch in the fresh air.

We use horses and dogs for sport. Not only do they strain to entertain us, but our society allows some of their keepers to inflict on them excruciating pain when they are away from public view.

Our treatment of animals shames us human beings.  We are given no licence by Scripture to dominate the environment and crush our fellow-creatures. There is no Biblical excuse for setting ourselves up as gods destroying whatever we will.

We consider ourselves superior to other creatures, but the evidence shows that we do not make a good shepherd. We are cruel and despotic in our treatment of the environment.

In today’s Gospel, John teaches us two things about animals and salvation. The first is that Jesus is the good shepherd. No creature, including us human beings, can put ourselves above other creatures. Jesus is our shepherd, caring for us, and he is the shepherd of all creation, restoring all things, not only the human world.

Secondly, we are called to be part of the community of creatures, living together with animals and ecosystems as our brothers and sisters. This is the great vision of Saint Francis of Assisi: to live in harmony with all life as part of the community of creation.

The Good Shepherd proclaims to us that God will draw into a community all his creation and that we will live in harmony with death adders and scorpions, both of them wild animals Jesus ’was with in the wilderness’ (Mark 1:13a), as we will with cats, horses, and especially dogs, the animals who have co-evolved with us and who are our familiars. 

There are many signs of new life. Most farmers I know are concerned about any animal cruelty and do all in their power to care for their animals. WWF and other organisations keep on reminding us of the plight of the non-human world and establish programs to restore habitat and rescue species. More and more middle-class people express real care for pets. Our Jack Russell Lottie is our little sister, a member of our family. There are new ways of feeding the hungry that do not exploit animals, so I have hope that lifting the poor out of poverty will be done ethically.

The Peaceable Kingdom, Edward Hicks, 1834

[‘We have like sheep gone astray.’ (Isaiah 53:6). Quoted in I Peter 2:25, and in the Introduction to Evening Prayer in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer]

The Snake’s Sin


The snake, in his tempting, makes us confused,
What is the sin, what punishment to come?
Is it pride, or wisdom or God’s traits to be used
that we deeply desire with our heart’s sum?

The snake, in his tempting, is skilled at misleading,
Look here, I’m a snake! Flabby sin at that address!
Is it sex, is it shame, is it clothes now receding?
Our focus is blurred by cold thoughtlessness.

The snake, in his tempting, makes our souls judder,
Shining skin in its blackness pretends to go deep:
Is it fear, is it self’s fickle flutter
that we dunk our souls in ourselves to steep?

Banish this snake, his crooked advance and sick ways,
Place God at the heart of our loupes’ precious gaze.

  • Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-6
  • Luke 4:1-13
  • (Lent 1, Year B Lectionary)

thruloupe
Photo jeweller’s loupe: Courtesy mazaldiamond.com