a sermon in celebration of the life and ministry of Canon Keith A. A. Weston
On Desert Island Discs you choose a book, but they tell you ”˜You’ve already got the Bible and Shakespeare’. I used to say to clergy, ”˜tell me your two Desert Island texts’ ”“ and I used to add, ”˜And you’ve already got John 20 and Romans 8.’
That sends me for a moment across to John, where we find a graphic personal outworking of Paul’s theme: those whom he justified, he also glorified. In John 21 Jesus meets Peter on the shore after Peter’s disastrous denial. Three times Jesus asks him, ”˜Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Three times Peter answers with a tentative Yes. The narrative then cries out for a word of forgiveness, but Jesus gives a word of commission. Feed my sheep. And then a word of warning: follow me, all the way to the cross. Those whom he justified, he also glorified: those to whom he gives the word of free forgiveness, to them he also gives the commission to join him in his costly work, to come when he calls, to go where he sends, to do what he tells you. The word of forgiveness and the word of call and commission regularly come together. We are not forgiven in order to sit back and do nothing. We are justified in order that we may also be glorified.
And equally every call and commission in the service of Jesus begins with that free, undeserved, by-grace-alone forgiveness. When I was in Durham a national committee proposed a new ordination service which included lots of creative and exciting things, and to make room they proposed some cuts, including the confession and absolution. My Durham colleagues and I agreed that this was nonsense. All Christian calling and ministry flows from the forgiving grace of God. That’s where Peter started; that’s where we all start. Start anywhere else and you’re building on sand. We thank God today for a life and ministry which was rooted in that forgiving and justifying grace and never grew weary in speaking of it. Those he glorified have already been justified.