Soli Deo Gloria – Allahu Akbar

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Renee Black, Sadiq Patel, Manchester.  (Daniel Hewitt, ITV news)

A homily for Easter 7, John 17: 1-11

Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son, so that your Son may glorify you  – Jesus.

Renee and Sadiq didn’t know each other,

but they held each other’s hands and prayed.

Renee Black is a 93 year old Jewish lady,

Sadiq Patel a Muslim.

They were together at one of the vigil sites for the victims of the Manchester terror attack.  Renee sat in a chair and Sadiq knelt beside her, his arm around her.   They comforted one another:  a simple, human exchange.  It was tender, it was glorious.  If I was a Christian from the Middle East or a Muslim, I’d have said ‘Allahu Akbar’ – Glory to God.

Two grieving strangers, different ages, genders, backgrounds, but holding each other and praying for victims: that is how God is glorified in this world.

As Christians, our duty and delight is to give glory to God.

It’s why, in our liturgy, we sing the Gloria:   “Glory to God in the Highest, and peace to His people”.

It’s why we pray, ‘yours is the Kingdom, the power and the glory’.

At the beginning and ending of each day, Christians who pray the  Liturgy of the Hours say, ‘Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.  As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, Amen’.

Right before he blew up himself and many others,

Salman Abedi would have shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’, ‘Glory to God’.

There are sick, twisted minds in every religion who think that God is somehow glorified by violence and cruelty.

The name of God is blasphemed by such things.

Whenever he sat down to create a piece of music, Johann Sebastian Bach would write at the top of the page:  ‘Soli Deo Gloria’ – to God alone the glory.   Why did Bach write music?  To glorify himself?  No.  He did it to praise God.  At a pop concert or in a Church or singing alone at home, bringing music to this world is how you glorify God.

We can’t all play and sing like Beth or Nicola, but we can all put an arm around a grieving stranger; that’s music, glorifying God.   We can all say something, write something, make, mend or bake something in a way that’s full of rhythm and love and even if no one else sees, God sees, and God knows, and God is praised and the entire universe feels the blessing.

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Versus populum, inter populum. – Altar frontal, S. Timothy’s, Ely

In the Bible, when God shows His glory in Egypt,  Hebrew slaves walk free.     In the 19th Century, the anti-slavery movement sang:  ‘Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord’.  In the 1960’s, facing down dogs and riot police, the civil rights’ protesters marched singing ‘glory, glory, Hallelujah’.

God’s glory means freedom and delight.   The Bible says the sun shines, the wind blows, the waves crash, the flowers flower and the trees grow to sing the silent music of God’s praise.

To glorify God is to praise The Source of all that is good and holy and life-giving in this world.

In Gethsemane, on the night before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed, ‘the hour has come. Father, glorify your Son, so that He may glorify you’.

The power and glory of the Roman empire was about to come crashing down on Jesus.   That’s the world’s idea of glory:  I have more power than you, I’ll prove it.

But God’s glory is… Jesus.   His hour of glory means being lifted up on a cross with a joke crown of thorns on His head, His arms outstretched for the world.  It’s the glory of suffering Love, almighty compassion, the most powerful force in this universe.

Divine gloria:  not the ugly look-at-me bling of a massive ego, but the glory of a merciful heart.

Allahu Akbar.  God be praised,

for yours Lord

is the kingdom,

the power

and the glory,

forever and ever.  Amen.

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Brother Sun gives praise – Ascension Day, Ely, Cardiff

 

 

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