St John Chrysostom was the Archbishop of Constantinople in the 4th Century AD. As a young man he had the best education that the classical world could offer. He became a monk, then priest and archbishop. He was famed for his oratory (Chrysostom being a nickname meaning ‘golden mouth’), his generosity to the poor and his unwavering critique of the morals of the court of Empress Eudoxia which resulted in his exile.
One of John’s most famous sermons was his Easter Sermon, in which he reflected upon Jesus’ parable of the workers in the vineyard and likened their experience to those who come to worship at Easter:
If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their reward.
If any have come after the third hour,
let them with gratitude join in the feast!
Those who arrived after the sixth hour,
let them not doubt; for they shall not be short-changed.
Those who have tarried until the ninth hour,
let them not hesitate; but let them come too.
And those who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let them not be afraid by reason of their delay.
For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
The Lord gives rest to those who come at the eleventh hour,
even as to those who toiled from the beginning.
To one and all the Lord gives generously.
The Lord accepts the offering of every work.
The Lord honours every deed and commends their intention.
Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!
At St Giles we have a real mixture of people. Some have been Christians for many years (from the first hour) for whom the message of Easter is very familiar – a constant source of encouragement and hope. Others have only recently come to faith in Christ (arriving at the eleventh hour) for them the Christian message is still fresh and new and wonderful. St John – following in the footsteps of Jesus, reminds us that – whether we have known Christ for a long time, or only just begun to serve him -whether we are familiar with the story of the Last Supper, Gethsemane, cross and resurrection or whether we are hearing it for the first time; our reward is the same, union with Christ – a sharing in his death and his rising to eternal life.
Let us all enter into the Joy of the Lord!
Wishing you Christ’s blessing