Posted on Sun, May 28, 2017
May 28, 2017
7th Sunday in Easter
Gospel text: John 17:1-11 “We are One”
Jesus Prays for His Disciples
After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. 5 So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed. 6 ‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8 for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11 And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.
Today’s Gospel is a prayer that Jesus prayed just before he was betrayed. Chapter 17 of the Gospel of John is essentially a prayer that Jesus is offering on behalf of his disciples and all those who will walk in the discipline of Christ. He is thinking and praying for them for time after Jesus ascends to heaven, and he is no longer with them in bodily form. Today’s Gospel is a “petition,” a prayer on behalf of all of Jesus’ disciples at the time, but as we read it, it is for all people of faith, the church.
There isn’t much time before Jesus will be taken from his disciples and you can hear that in his voice. It is as if you can genuinely see Jesus as a human praying for his beloved children… which he is.
All throughout the season of Pentecost we hear story after story about all the great works that Jesus did, and the important teachings he taught. Everything that was done, the healing, the feeding, the raising of the dead, and all the lessons from the Sermon on the Mount, plus his demand that “the one who has never sinned, throw the first stone,” were all done so that we could see and understand that Jesus was way more than a prophet, that he was truly the Chosen One sent from God. But none of those miracles or teachings, even though they were amazing, fulfilled what Jesus was sent to do. We are all strengthened, guided and encourage my Jesus great words and deeds, but our relationship with God is not changed only by hearing about Jesus’ miracles and teachings. In regards to our forgiveness, our salvation, and our identity as sons and daughters of God, it is all up to God to act.
Just after this petition, the final act of God’s Glory will be revealed in a most unexpected way. Where is God’s Glory seen and witnessed most clearly? It is the image of Jesus on the Cross when he has given all he has in order to show us the extent God will go to loving us back to life. “I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do.”
God has given all life into the hands of Christ, so that by Jesus’ faithfulness and obedience, Jesus can restore our relationship with God. This is what Jesus is about to do, all of history, all of the brokenness, all of the doubt and fear, will be conquered with Jesus suffering and giving his life for our sake, for all times sake. It is through Jesus acting, that we are forgiven and restored. The proclamation of Jesus death and resurrection are what make Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, truly GOSPELS. And when we read these stories and understand that Jesus’ petition, and obedience, we confess that, like John said, we belong to Christ. And that means, through faith, we become the Body of Christ on this earth. Through the Holy Spirit we proclaim that we belong to God, no matter what is going on, no matter what we feel, no matter what mistakes we make… it’s all about Grace and God’s faithfulness. Our identity is summed up in Jesus’ petition, “Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.”
The Reverend Daniel Erlander quotes Luther very well in his books, “We are beggars, this is most certainly true.” But through the Cross of Christ, we see that God is faithful, rich in mercy, showering us with blessing, hope and love each and every day.
This past week went by quickly, but I noticed that as I spoke to people, there were three consistent questions people asked me:
With all the talk about the ‘king tides’ the reality of rising sea levels seemed to be on people’s mind, so I was asked, “Pastor what do you think about all this talk of ‘climate change?’” Did it take the reality of actually seeing the effects of sea level rise and effect property (and maybe their property values) to get their attention?
Then, people were genuinely worried about what may happen in North Korea. “Pastor what do you think will happen in North Korea, it is so frightening!” It seems that people are afraid of the North Koreans bombing us here, or a war starting in the Korean Peninsula. I don’t have an answer beyond asking for prayers for peace.
The final question that was posed to me was, “Pastor what happens if the ACA is repealed and replaced? What will the elderly do?” There is an existential threat (a real threat) to the ACA, Medicaid & Medicare, Social Security, and especially the cost of Health Care for the elderly. I have yet to hear anyone speak about how the ‘price of health care for the young will go down’ alone is such a good thing. People recognize that the young aren’t as much of an issue, the young don’t rely on health insurance as much as the elderly, and people seem to understand this fact. Unless of course a family has experienced a serious illness with a child like myself.
I didn’t have any silver dollar answers for anyone, but I was amazed at the sense of fear that seemed to be behind each person’s question!
These fears are based on powerlessness and being alone. A fear based on a sense of being totally alone, the sense that there is no one to help, care or correct the dreadful situation.
When I get a call to bring food to a hungry person or family I am thankful that we have provided the resources that allows someone like me to bring food to someone in need; but as I drive away I often worry about what happens when the food runs out, and I am not around… The reason I may be called to an emergency is the fact the person or family fell through the cracks, or there was no one to notice their situation to help them.
There is a totally lack of understanding that we stop being a society, let alone a country, when we eventually feel so alone that no one really cares or is willing to make sure the basic needs of the poor, the children and elderly are met. I have yet to understand how the requirement that health care must make a profit is moral or ethical. The feeling I sense on the street is that people now feel like they are totally on their own; there is no sense of belonging to a society or community, let alone a country.
According to a news story on public radio, the number one fear for seniors is, eviction.
This is the feeling permeating our country right now. People mean nothing, unless they make a profit for someone else. The only thing that matters is a tangible, “bottom line.” A number, a monetary value, not a human value. In our country, no one seems to have the courage to adequately respond to the needs for proper education, housing, or health issues, unless of course someone is making a profit out of the deal. People on the street or out in the bush understand this reality, many are resigned to the belief that they are just viewed as a cost to society. Not surprising, they have that message told to them every day.
Fear based out the feeling, and reality of disconnect with neighbor, family or community.
Jesus’ time with his disciples was almost over, and he prayed for them. Jesus’ prayer is very human. He sounds like a parent praying so that their child will always know they are loved and never alone.
According to Jesus’ petition we are not separate from one another, we are One, just as Jesus and God the Father are One.
Through the Death and Resurrection of Christ our sins were forgiven and our relationship with God was fully restored, we were made One again. The word, “Atonement” can be broken down to At-One-Ment. This is the result of Jesus’ faithfulness to go to the cross.
Our world seems to be tearing itself to pieces when in reality, we are all ONE with God and each other. We put labels on people that seem to justify actions of violence, or values based on apathy. When the reality is that we are One.
The responsibility of the church, as the Body of Christ, as being the Proclaimer of Truth and God’s Justice and Mercy has never been more important than today.
People feel very afraid because of the words and actions of a few, but the reality of the Gospel is that, we do not belong to darkness, violence and hate, we belong to God, and God is faithful and just. Jesus continues to pray for us so that we know that we do not belong to darkness, but we belong to Christ, and Christ is here, right now, with us, surrounding us with hope, mercy and joy. And it is time for us, as a church, as the Body of Christ to boldly proclaim and live out this message of One-ness, mercy, humility, forgiveness and therefore, salvation.
We do not belong to fear, we belong to Christ. Amen.
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