Monday, March 23, 2009

Unity in Jesus - Lent 17

Picture: People-watching in San Francisco...

"Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name - the name you gave me - so that they may be one as we are one." - Jesus (John 17:11)

I am quite sure that Jesus looked around the room as he prayed - very deliberately. None of this "all heads bowed and eyes closed" disassociation for Jesus; I'll bet he named the disciples, one by one.

Jesus was aware of what made each of his friends unique; he knew their personalities; he understood that their individuality is what made them strong. He was conscious, too, of the difficulties inherent in blending such characters into an effective team.

I am sure that Jesus knew exactly what he was doing; because he chose them, because he knew them. I am sure that Jesus knows exactly what he is doing; because he chooses us, because he knows us... because he knows me.

I love people-watching. Sometimes I arrive early for my flight at an airport, and I have to wait; or my daughter drags me to the mall and she goes into one of those smelly stores that I can't stand, and I sit outside for a few minutes so I can breathe. Either way, the parade of people walking by is well worth the few minutes I have to hang around.

Sometimes I try to categorize the people I see milling around:
  • "Not from around here."
  • "Older than she dresses."
  • "Retired schoolteacher."
  • "Lawyer."
  • "Beautician."
  • "Escaped from the children for the afternoon."
  • "Not pleased to be shopping."
When things really get slow I even try to sort by denomination:
  • "That one shops like an Episcopalian..."
  • "Haven't seen a plaid shirt like that since last time I was in Wisconsin - must be a Lutheran..."
  • " Would you look at the size of the cross around his neck? Assemblies of God for sure..."
  • "Peace beads and a CROP Walk t-shirt? gotta be Presbyterian..."
But we really are "one," as Jesus prayed. I enjoy conferences where Jesus followers of all theological stripes celebrate what we have in common. It's about the saving grace of Jesus, the journey to the Cross - and beyond - and the imperative to share Christ's transforming love with this hurting world.

Christ is passionate when he prays for me... for you... for each one of us. "I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me for they are yours..." (verse 9). Jesus is focusing the amazing authority of his personal prayer to the Father on our well-being. Jesus is praying for all of us, even today!

It's quite startling, when I think about it. Jesus Christ himself lifts me before the Father. The prayer is earnest, ardent and tender. When I read this passage I get the feeling that Jesus held the image of my family in his mind, and of me as a individual, when he prayed.

Jesus really does love us.

PRAYER: I can only echo your sentiments, Lord. Holy Father, unite us by the power of your name. Amen


Bill said...

It is so cool to know the person at the top that is really for you! I've always said it's not what you know, but who you know!

Derek Maul said...

Great observation, Bill.