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Lent reflection Cover Image

The Glory of God, John 17:1-5

8th Apr 2019

1 After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed. (NRSV) 

 glory of God


‘To the Glory of God’ is a phrase I have seen in many churches, often as part of a memorial to a benefactor or a deceased member of church or local community. Written in stone, brass, wood and glass as a permanent reminder to present and succeeding generations, it is part of a standard formula of words that is perhaps too easily used and taken for granted. The phrase at its best is meant to deflect our attention from the great, the good and the wealthy, and therefore remind us that it is only through the grace of God that we have what we have, and only through the Holy Spirit that we can achieve great and good things. Furthermore, for some these may only be achieved through the giving up of their lives, as suggested in the memorial shown above.

But ours is only a reflected glory at best. For Jesus it is different. He is God on earth with a glory that is everlasting. Yet he shows how through his earthly ministry he can bring glory to God by finishing the work he has been given to do, most supremely in his act of sacrifice on the cross, for which ‘the hour has come’. The crucifixion as an act of love is the culmination of a ministry of many acts of love, so that whole of Jesus’ earthly life is an offering to God and a revelation of God’s glory.

For us to follow in this way, we need to be aware of what God wants us to do, what tasks he has given us. These may not be precise and detailed, as this is not usually how God works, but we all know that the Holy Spirit will guide us in our acts of love for others. This is true in small tasks that might only affect one other person and it is true in the decisions of those who have the power to affect the lives of millions. And for this we need strength. So often we know what the right thing is to do, we just need the courage to carry it out. The journey through Lent, particularly as we draw close to Holy Week, is the renewed opportunity to re-examine our lives and how we work for God in our families, our communities, our society, our world, and for all creation. This may mean a change of direction, mending of relationships, challenging evils, giving up power, supporting the marginalised, whatever God through his Holy Spirit calls you to do. Almost certainly it will mean a degree of sacrifice for such is the nature of selfless love. And when you can achieve this today or any time in the future remember to say and believe, ‘to the Glory to God’.

Revd Dr John Tomlinson, St John's Director of Studies