5/13/2018 Seventh Sunday of Easter The text is John 17:6-19.
Grace and peace to you from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Today is Mother’s Day, a day when we honor our Moms, as well we should. For we have learned many things from our Moms.
My mother taught me religion. She used to say things like, “You better pray that comes out of the carpet.”
My mother taught me medicine: “If you don’t stop crossing your eyes, they’re going to freeze that way.”
My mother taught me how to be a contortionist: “Will you look at the dirt on the back of your neck!”
My mother taught me to appreciate a job well done: “If you’re going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning!”
My mother taught me about genetics: “You are just like your father!”
My mother taught me logic: “Because I said so, that’s why.” (illustration from sermon.com)
In spite of, or maybe because of all the things we have learned from our Moms AND because of all that our Moms do or have done for us, Washington Irving (1783-1859) once wrote: A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine, desert us when troubles thicken around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.
Yet, in spite of all the good and not so good qualities of mothers, there are still things that mothers cannot do. They may kiss our boo-boos and remove slivers, but unless they’ve been to medical school, they can’t mend a broken heart. They may hold us when we cry and wipe away our tears, but they can’t give us happiness as happiness comes from within. They may tell us that everything will be okay, but they can’t prevent death. For, the life that they give us is limited, the comfort that they provide us is momentary, and the healing that they offer us often requires more than a kiss and cup of chicken soup.
Jesus provides for us what our mothers cannot. For, although death remains real, the life that he offers us is eternal. The comfort he provides us is everlasting, if we only dare to believe in our hearts the promises he makes. The home that he prepares for us is without sorrow or tears or pain or all the discomforts we experience on our journey on earth. The lessons he teaches us are to help us stay connected to him and find love and joy and peace even when things don’t go our way. And the prayer that he offers for us before his days come to a brutal and terrifying end has nothing to do with little things, like stains in a carpet or even winning a lottery. His prayer is that we be protected in his name and that we never become lost or alone.
Our gospel for today is part of what is known as Jesus’ high priestly prayer. In this prayer Jesus prays for us who find our identity in him. For although we live in this world and are part of everyday events, we are part of God’s family through faith. We are Christ’s. We share a common last name in baptism – that is Child of God. Jesus gathers us into the family and now prays for us that God will be with us on this life’s journey because he knows how hard life can be at times. We will need God’s help to keep the faith. We will need God’s help to get over stumbling blocks placed in our path. We will need God’s help to carry on Jesus’ mission once he leaves this world behind and returns to his heavenly home.
Jesus prays for us – that we will enjoy the same oneness that exists between Jesus and the Father. This is a difficult one for us to understand as we celebrate our uniqueness, our individuality, and our personal accomplishments and achievements. We want to stand out from the crowd instead of blend in so that what we do gets recognized by others. We like the pats on the back, the monetary rewards and notoriety. That makes all of life full of division. It separates us rather than unites us. And yet, Jesus prays that we be one. He prays that we identify ourselves through him and see ourselves as part of his body…getting our life blood through him and as firmly connected to each other as the ribs are to the spine. That means that none of us is ever alone. None of us are ever unwanted or unworthy or unimportant. Each of us has a part to play and each of us is vital. So Jesus’ continual prayer for us is that we will be one.
Also, Jesus asks that we will have joy! Jesus prays that you and I have joy in the midst of all that pulls at us in this world in which we live, all that causes us pain and distress, all that would have us forget that true joy is found in the unity we have with each other.
Finally, Jesus requests that we be sanctified. Now, sanctification is a word that we seldom use. In fact, many of us may not even know what it means. To be sanctified is to be purified or made holy. It is a process of transformation that only happens when we walk with Jesus on a daily basis. It only happens when we consciously turn toward God and accept God’s love. It is a spiritual discipline in which we open ourselves to God and in the process God transforms us.
Now, we all know about discipline. That was one of the first lessons we learned from our parents. But this type of discipline has nothing to do with time outs, going to the principal’s office, or punishment of any kind. If you have ever gotten good at anything, you know about discipline. Sandy and Caitlin who are playing instrument this day and Renee who is singing know all about discipline, for discipline is the art of practice.
The Army requires a lot of discipline, and in turn it transforms people in many ways. Sanctification is a process of transformation that happens when our faith is practiced. And it is practiced as we pray as Jesus’ prayed, as we read our Bible and come to church, and as we go out into the world and share the truth with others…that is, put our faith in action.
Is Jesus’ prayer a tall order? Of course it is! But it is not something we do alone. It is something God does for us each day…if we let him. And maybe that’s the toughest part of all – that we learn to let go and let God.
As Jesus’ prayer for us works in our lives and unites us in Christ, we pray that the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, keeps our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.