Upwards of 120 pastors and Christian leaders from all over Port Elizabeth gathered at St Johns Anglican Church in Walmer to hear Michael Cassidy, founder of African Enterprise and author, speak on his latest book, “The Church Jesus Prayed For “, an exposition of John Ch. 17, which contains the prayer our Lord prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.
When a speaker, especially a Christian speaker, launches into his subject, one sometimes has the sense that he has realised that he has touched on something so profound that he is struggling with a sense of awe at the wonders he has begun to understand, hardly daring to begin to explain them. It is like a man who, arriving at the top of a mountain and suddenly seeing a vista before him that is so magnificent, so beautiful and so overwhelming feels that he will never be able to adequately describe it afterwards. So it was with Michael this morning.
A work in progress for 20 years
He gave a brief history of his writing the book, which has been written over a period of some 20 years, and then, very humbly, began to describe some of the statements Christian theologians, bishops and writers have made about John 17. All the commentators he quoted used words like ‘superlative”, “most sacred’ and ‘unique.’ The comment I found most adequately described that chapter comes from Archbishop William Temple, writing at the end of the 19th century: ” Before this prayer all our prayers fade like tapers in the sun.”
Michael found his motivation to attempt his exposition from a lecture given by the Evangelical writer John Stott in 1975, in which he said that John 17 is about four things: truth, holiness, unity and mission.
Over the years, as Michael has wrestled with the chapter on and off, and based on what John Stott taught, he has derived ten marks, or features, that Jesus prayed would be apparent in His Church. They are: truth, holiness, joy, protection, mission, prayerfulness, unity, love, power and glory. Space does not permit a detailed comment on each. I will, however, comment on one of the marks, and that is the last one, glory.
Michael states that, and I quote, ” Glory shines forth in full measure when all the other marks are operative. Indeed, if all these marks Jesus prayed for are in a church then most surely what we will see will be the radiant character and moral beauty of God shining through. And that is glorious!”
I can’t say anything more than to add, ” Get the book!” It will be in the bookshops from the end of next month, selling at around R200.