By Elizabeth Baumann
A Reading from the Gospel of John 5:19-29
19 Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. 20 The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing; and he will show him greater works than these, so that you will be astonished. 21 Indeed, just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomsoever he wishes. 22 The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24 Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life.
25 “Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself; 27 and he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and will come out — those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.”
Somewhere George MacDonald wrote that at the heart of the universe is the relationship between Father and Son. It’s what we see in today’s lesson: the perfect harmony and melody that play out between Jesus and God the Father, the core of the tune that we are woven into and called to play ourselves.
I’m not especially musical, but it does seem to me that harmony and melody is one of the best ways to describe this relationship. It is like melody, because, even if deceptively simple, it forms the guiding line of all the music: the Son does as the Father does, for the Son sees what the Father is doing and echoes it. But it’s also like harmony, something that, by adding counterpoint, brings depth and complexity: the Father hands over all judgment of men to the Son, because he’s become one of us. The Son does things (become incarnate, do all the judging) that the Father does not, but the doing of different tasks is kept in harmony between the persons; there is no discord here, because two Persons do different things.
That sounds awfully simple, but it is the model of the song we’re meant to join, and it’s not very simple when we try to do it. We are each one of us different, called to add different notes at different times in different ways, and to do it in a way that maintains the melody and expands the harmony. That means letting other people do different things without comparing ourselves to them. It means having the courage to do the different thing yourself when your turn comes — and, harder for some of us, not to belt out the wrong note at the wrong time. It’s only, any of it, possible if we first see what the Father is doing — because the Son is showing us — and tuning ourselves to their notes.
Elizabeth Baumann is a seminary graduate, a priest’s wife, and the mother of two small daughters. A transplant from the West Coast, she now lives in “the middle of nowhere” in the Midwest with too many cats.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Kajiado – The Anglican Church of Kenya
The Episcopal Church in Minnesota