Scripture

John 17:20-23

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

 

Reflection

Today’s passage comes from John’s Gospel near the end of what is sometimes referred to as the “High Priestly Prayer” Jesus prays immediately following the Last Supper and just prior to his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane.

In the preceding verse, Jesus prays for his disciples. In verse 20, he shifts his focus.

      “I pray for those who will believe in me through their message…”

I hope you didn’t miss the importance here. Perhaps you have read this passage before but never grasped the significance of this short phrase.

On the night that he was betrayed, when his enemies would come to arrest him, and he would soon be condemned, Jesus prayed for you and he prayed for me. He prayed for all of us and he prayed specifically that we might be one… ”just as you are in me and I am in you”.

The gathering of delegates from around the world for the called session of General Conference has now come to an end. Later today you will be receiving an email with a summary of the outcome of this gathering for which we have been praying these last few days.

It’s an appropriate time for us to consider… How might we pray like Jesus today?

Each week we pray the prayer Jesus taught his disciples to pray and together we say, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” We pray that in part to open ourselves to an understanding that we may not know what form the fulfillment of that prayer might be and yet together we yearn for that future…

For the reign of God to be fully restored through Christ, and for justice and peace, righteousness and love, to once again, always, always, always win the day.

Today should be a day we broaden our prayers beyond our own church, or even the denomination to which we are affiliated. Today we pray for God’s church in all the forms it takes around the world and we pray for God’s will to be done and God’s Kingdom to come in each and every body of believers who seek the restoration of God’s reign in each human heart and in a world broken and burdened by our shared sin.

Some may understand this differently, but I don’t think the unity that Christ is praying for here is focused on our relationship to one another... It is a prayer for our union with Christ. Said differently, this is the only place where real unity among any of us can truly be found.

Meeting in the middle is the way of the world.

Meeting in Christ is the way of the Christian life.

“I in them,” he says, “and you in me - so that they may be brought to complete unity.”

Prayer

Loving God, today we pray for your kingdom to come and your will to be done. We pray for your church knowing that the church united is about so much more than having the same sign on the door, but about the surrendered hearts of all those who today are working for the restoration of your reign. May we throw off the sin that hinders us. May we have the courage to forget what is behind, and, in union with Christ, press on towards the goal of fulfilling the prayers you have taught us to pray. All these things we pray in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. AMEN.