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Homilies by Rev. Andrew Collis unless indicated otherwise.

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Lent 5, Year B
South Sydney Uniting Church
March 21, 2021

 John 12:20-33

‘Action and Reflection’

In chapter 1 of the Fourth Gospel we read about two of John the Baptiser’s disciples choosing to follow Jesus. “When Jesus turned around and noticed them following, he asked them, ‘What are you looking for?’ They replied, ‘Rabbi’ – which means ‘Teacher’ – ‘where are you staying?’ ‘Come and see,’ Jesus answered”.

Soon after, in the same chapter, we read that “Philip sought out Nathanael and said to him, ‘We’ve found the One that Moses spoke of in the Law, the One about whom the prophets wrote: Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary and Joseph’. ‘From Nazareth?’ said Nathanael. ‘Can anything good come from Nazareth?’ ‘Come and see,’ replied Philip”.

Today’s text from John 12 suggests that when the Greeks, via Philip and Andrew, ask to see him, Jesus recognises the advent of the “hour” – the hour of his glorification, accomplished on the cross and anticipated in the words and works of ministry (2:11). “Please, we would like to see Jesus.” Please, we would like to see Compassion/Courage/Grace/Truth/Healing/Love/Dignity.

What’s it like to see (feel, touch, experience) for ourselves? What’s it like to explore a new place? What’s it like to visit people in their own home, in their home city or country? Exciting, humbling, daunting, rewarding.

What’s it like to learn by way of action and reflection? What’s that process like – doing and thinking, refining and improving, trying again and again – action and reflection, experiment and research … yes, mistakes are inevitable … failure and recovery, chance and epiphany …? Demanding, frustrating, creative, transformative.

I remember a playwright saying one time that researching a field of interest led to all manner of discovery with regard to particular vocations, responsibilities, joys and sorrows, drama … workshopping a script with actors led to further discovery … and likewise with regard to audience participation and feedback.

Perhaps we think we already know. “Come and see,” says Jesus. We would truly like to see Compassion/Courage/Grace/Truth/Healing/Love/Dignity …

This kind of prayerful action and reflection relates to faith in Christ as an icon of goodness, an icon of God (see Colossians 1:15).

It is always possible to make an idol of Christ if we merely admire or venerate his story without a creative appropriation in our own lives, without, that is, acting on a reflected glory in which we too have our being (in which all creatures have their being). We might refer to an inter-being, or even to inter-carnation (Catherine Keller). Please, we would like to see Jesus, the light of the world, the goodness of the world, our own lives in company and concert with all that is good.

“There’s always something surprising and expansive about icons,” says theologian Louis-Marie Chauvet …

All ministry is a process of prayerful action and reflection … thank you to all our elders for doing and thinking, refining and improving our ministries, systems and structures, trying again and again … for acting on a reflected glory in which we all have our being in the world … and here at South Sydney. For witness and service, thank you …

We have an opportunity now by way of Affirmation and Nomination to thank someone for something (Dorothy and I will gather and share as appropriate whatever is offered). One affirmation at a time (take as many forms as you need today … until March 23).

Perhaps you’d like to recognise and affirm a gift for ministry. There’s also a space on the form this year to share something you discern in yourself. Is there something you’d like to offer?

For members and members in association, the flip-side of the form invites nominations for particular ministries. Please take your time and trust in the promptings of the Spirit as you nominate members to be elders (you can write more than one name on the same form) and office bearers (there are role descriptions to assist you).


Perhaps we think we know already (what ministry looks like, what a working or formation group is all about). “Come and see,” says Jesus. We would truly like to see compassion, courage, grace, truth, healing, love, dignity … Amen.