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Easter 5



There are a lot of buildings in our scripture readings. Of the five lectionary readings set for today, four speak of buildings that are places of safety.

In Genesis, Noah and his family have had the security of the ark to protect them from the flood; Psalm 31 asks that God be “my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe”; Peter writes encouraging his readers to let themselves be built into a spiritual house; and in the Gospel, Jesus speaks of his Father’s house, where a place is being specially prepared for each of us.

In times of doubt or struggle each of us needs reassurance; and the thought of God providing a safe place can be a great comfort. Thankfully, most of us will find it hard to imagine what goes through the mind of a martyr, like Stephen, when faced with the danger of aero hostile crowd. Whilst we cannot imagine his thoughts, what is obvious is Stephen’s complete confidence that whatever happens, whatever he would endure, God would be his refuge and strength.

Through my years of pastoral ministry, I have come across many sources of people’s confidence. I have met people whose confidence seemed to be entirely in their home and property; those who idolised and found security in their family; those who became completely shattered when the career they had invested their lives in, suddenly vanished; those who found they had no faith at all, when they lost their church building. Sometimes we only discover what we have put our confidence in, when we find that we had put our confidence in something precarious.

Yesterday, the nation celebrated the Coronation of King Charles III.

I’m writing this sermon before the event, but I take it that the day provided a glorious pageant in every respect. Monarchy has changed greatly in my lifetime, and we should pray for the King as he seeks to make it ever more relevant to the world in which live; but there is something precarious in following fashionable opinion.

In the Old Testament, the people of Israel wanted to be more like their neighbouring nations and asked Samuel to find them a king. After seeking God’s counsel, Samuel returned with a warning. He said, unlike their King who is the Lord, an earthly king would effectively enslave them, taking their money for his campaigns, their crops for his court, and their children for battle (1 Samuel 8). “Put not your trust in princes…” Psalm 146 tells us.

I’m confident that King Charles doesn’t think of his role in anything like that way. Rather he has been clear about his sense of living a life of service, as an inspiration and role model for the nation and commonwealth.

This is Eastertide - the season of the church’s year when we celebrate the confidence that comes from faith in life eternal. We have confidence because we stand in the faith of Jesus Christ; the Cornerstone upon whom we can come and stand with confidence before the Father. Those who believe in him can have confidence because “whoever believes in him will not be put to shame”; because whatever happens, whatever they endure, they stand in the marvellous light of Christ as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people”. How’s that for a sense of confidence?

Even during the ‘whatever happens’ period, there are great celebrations in Heaven. Following in the Way of Jesus, doing the works he did, and more, those who believe win great glory for the Father. Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, testified to the glory of God, and we too, with the confidence of the Holy Spirit, can ‘do greater things than these’ as Jesus promised. If only we will have confidence in God’s Spirit working through us.

Whatever you might believe about the monarchy in the UK, it has always stood as a Christian witness. King Charles seeks to live out his Christian witness in his acts of service to the nation and commonwealth. We pray that he will be greatly blessed as he serves, however confident he feels in the role (he is human after all)

Like King Charles, we place our confidence in the King of Kings. Full of the Holy Spirit, we follow in his way and serve his Kingdom with the confidence that comes from being his people. Whatever happens, whatever you endure, have confidence in Christ the Cornerstone. However you are led in your ministry, stand secure and confident in Christ, full of the Spirit, serving to the glory of God the Father.


  1. What kind of a king is Jesus?
  2. You are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people”. How does that make you feel?
  3. Think of your own ministry or acts of Christian witness and service - whether dynamic or prayerful, public or taciturn. How would your ministry be different if you were twice as confident in your calling to it? Pray that you become twice as confident in your call to serve.
Page last updated: Wednesday 3rd May 2023 10:30 AM
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