Seventh Sunday of Easter – Sunday, May 13, 2018

May 13, 2018  

John 17:6-19

I accused my spouse, Jeanne of eaves-dropping this past week. I was talking to myself and she was listening in. When she asked a question about what I said I told her she shouldn’t eavesdrop. Then later, when I got to work I went downstairs to talk to Jessica, our Associate Lay Minister. As I turned the corner into her office, I found her sitting at her desk, reading something off the computer to herself, out loud. Suddenly I was the one eaves-dropping.

I have the same exact reaction to today’s gospel reading. I am both a little embarrassed and a lot excited that we’re over-hearing a conversation between Jesus and God, a conversation the disciples are present for and hear… an intimate exchange that is full of love and trust and confidence and concern.

Jesus was having his last meal with his disciples prior to his arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection. Jesus knew what was about to happen. Jesus gave himself freely over to what was about to happen. But, there were a few things he needed to say to God first—things he clearly wanted to say in the presence of his beloved disciples.

Usually scholars refer to the disciple John, who wrote this gospel, as the beloved disciple, because that’s how he refers to himself. I’m saying they were all beloved. You can see the love and intimacy in this pray Jesus prays. Which is why I feel a little awkward reading the prayer, hearing the prayer. Jesus loved them so much.

“They were yours and you gave them to me” (John 17:6)

The disciples were a precious, beloved gift God gave Jesus.

“They have kept your word” (John 17:6)

Jesus had such confidence in them!

“the words you have given to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they believed that you sent me” (John 17:7-8)

None of the other gospels present the disciples this way: with deep love and trust. Jesus understood the disciples were given to him as a gift.

“All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them” (John 17:10)

Jesus was saying to God, you entrusted me with the disciples and look how they have shined your light to the world! The world sees my glory in and through them! Already! We can trust them! They are ready.

And yet… and yet…

Jesus knows he is leaving his beloved disciples. He prays to God, asking for their protection.

“Holy Father protect them… so that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:11)

“Sanctify them…” (John 17:17)

Jesus knows the holiness of God. “To be holy is to be set apart” (The New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. 9, p. 792).

“This address to God is particularly appropriate… because the intercessions that follow include Jesus’ request that God ‘sanctify,’ ‘make holy’ the disciples” (TNIB, vol. 9, p. 792).

Jesus asks that the disciples be set apart, that the disciples be delegated for a special task; I believe Jesus believed the disciples were “called” to do God’s holy, sacred work.

We are Jesus’ disciples.

Like those who lived with Jesus in his time and in his space, we are called to do God’s holy, sacred work.

Jesus is glorified in all we say and do.

Last year one of my nephews brought his family to my installation. Later, as he described Our Savior’s to his sister (who was unable to attend) he said “They focus their ministry on the community.”

We do. This is our call, to glorify Jesus in the services we offer others. Whether our ministry is to give a pantsuit from the Clothes Closet to a woman to wear as she looks for work, or our ministry is to give a gas voucher to a low-income person who needs to get to work, or our ministry is to provide a free meal and food to take home, or our ministry is to welcome every person who comes through our doors and to live a message of love to those who might be too afraid to come… we do look outward. As it should be.

Today let’s remind ourselves as we do these things:

*we are beloved disciples

*Jesus loves us for who we are and how we bring glory to him

*our work is holy

*we do what we do to bring glory to God, not to ourselves or each other

In this prayer that is our gospel reading today, that we are blessed to overhear, Jesus prayed

As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them” (John 17:18)

We’ve got work to do.

May we serve God knowing God protects us, and loves us, and trusts us, and take pride in all we say and do in God’s name.

Amen.