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Witnesses of Hope and God’s Love

7th Sunday of Easter
May 24, 2020
John 17:1-11

Jesus Farewell address—we enter towards the end. The Advocate has been sent and dwells among us according to John’s gospel. This week Jesus calls us to be witnesses to the works of God—bearers of hope. We are overhearing Jesus offering a prayer to God. John’s faith community also overheard it. Jesus is in an intimate conversation with God.

Unlike the Lord’s Prayer, this is not an ageless and universal prayer. It is a prayer whose language unites the past, present, and future into one particular point in time—“Father the hour has come…” (John 17:1) Jesus’ hour has come. Jesus’ hour is the in-breaking of God’s work in the world through the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.

Jesus speaks only to God. Thus we play the same passive role as the disciples and John’s faith community. We all hear but are not spoken to. Jesus prays for the disciples, the believers, and for us. It is God’s grace that will sustain the disciples and John’s community of believers. All successive generations of faith communities are the recipients of Jesus’ prayer.

When we hear this prayer, we should realize that it is not the human factor in the work of the church that will determine its future. God’s grace is what is at work. That doesn’t mean we sit back and let God do all the work! We must be witnesses to God’s love.

If we really took to heart the understanding that we are a community for whom Jesus prays, how would that change how we define ourselves? How would it impact our life and mission together knowing Jesus prays for us in the midst of Covid-19? Would it strengthen and enliven us as bearers of hope to a world that is still sheltering in place? Would our conversations, our prayers to God change in some way knowing deep down in our hearts that Jesus prays for us? Are our public prayers composed for God or for those who are hearing the prayer? Perhaps it goes both ways. I have heard prayers that don’t seem to address God in any prominent way. Then I have heard ones that have absolutely moved me to think that I was hearing a direct conversation to the Holy One.

Now this is not about our prayers being answered. It is about living with and in the belief that Jesus prays for us. It seems to me such a belief would deepen our personal relationship with the Trinity. It would make our relationship with our Creator, Redeemer, and Holy Spirit even more communal. When we humbly recognize that we are dependent on God’s loving care and that Jesus prays for us as a faith community, it can embolden us to be bearers of hope in a more meaningful way, to be stirred into action as witnesses to God’s work in the world. Our witnessing to the grace, mercy, peace, and love of God for everyone and all creation would take on even deeper meaning and purpose. When we live in that way, when we understand that we are recipients of Jesus’ prayer, then we can live in the hope that God is stirred to action by our prayers!

Let us drink in deeply the belief and the promise that Jesus prays for us; that God’s grace and mercy dwells in us and that the strength of the Holy Spirit will lift us up to be witnesses of Hope and God’s love to a world that is desperately in need of that hope and love!

In the greatest of hope, may it be so!
Pastor Carol