The Gospel: John 17:6-19
Jesus prayed for his disciples, “I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.”
Prayer: Lord, you have promised that when two or three gather in your name you will be present with them. We depend on that promise today and pray that you will move among us. Lord, we pray that have you inspired Mike's preparation, that you will enliven his presentation and that you will empower our application. Amen
You will remember I ended my Sermon last week with this encouragement:
As we celebrate this Mother's Day, as we remember the example of Monica and seek to implement Jesus' words from the Gospel of John may we be gracious to one another and remember that Jesus is confident we can do this.
Jesus is confident we can do this. Those words hold such power, don't they? As we reflect on the Gospel reading for this morning I hope we can all hear that confidence. I hope we can hear the trust that Jesus has in his disciples, and by implication in us.
We are about to enter Graduation season here in the US. Now, Graduations will be a little different this year. Not as restricted or difficult to hold as last year but still different in size and process. I imagine that most will be held outside and that there will be some protocols that have to be followed.
One of the elements of Graduation that most people will be expecting and hoping for this year is a rousing Commencement Speech or Commencement Address. Now, you all know that this speech or address is typically given by a notable figure in the community or a graduating student. In many smaller schools, this speech or address is made by the valedictorian. It is designed to reflect on the life of the students together and then to point them in the direction that they may wish to continue as they journey on in their life. Many times this speech will reflect on the achievements of the students who make up this particular class. It will certainly have some aspect of challenge and encouragement to the students to go on and to be the "best reflection of themselves and their institution in the years to come." It is a kind of "because of who you have been, this is who you might be, or maybe, in the future" speech. Of course, the hope is that whatever these students will do in the future will bring credit to the school. That the efforts of these students will raise the public notice of the school, its administration, faculty, and staff. That other people might want to send their students to the school because of its reputation and credibility.
There is an element of that in Jesus' words to the disciples in John chapter 17 this morning. It is important to note that we are only reading a portion of the whole message from John chapter 17 this morning.
This chapter - John 17 - is known as "Jesus' High Priestly Prayer." We are reading the center section of that prayer this morning.
In this prayer, Jesus prays for the disciples. He commends them to the Heavenly Father. He sets out before the Heavenly Father what makes them distinctive, what he has done to teach, train, and prepare them for the time ahead. He lays out a path for them, a path that they will pass on to those that they encounter in the future.
We are in a similar place that we were last week with Jesus being aware that he is leaving and he must prepare the disciples for what is to come. That they will draw from their experience with him and all that he has taught them. That they will seek to use what he has shown them so that they will be able to minister on his behalf in the future.
Of course, there is the implied hope that others, in future generations, will be drawn to Jesus. That more people will be drawn to the teachings, training, and development that is available to those who are drawn to Jesus the Christ.
I am going to pause right now and I am going to ask you to turn to the Gospel in your Bulletin or on the screens at the front of the church and I am going to ask you to read John 17: 6-9. Just take a moment and read through it.
What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel challenged by? What do you understand you are responsible for?
With those questions in mind, I would like to give us an opportunity for some evaluation. If you receive the Weekly Update and read it you will have seen this already this week. In my "editorial section" which I have called Mike's Musings I mentioned that I was reminded of the Anglican Five Marks of Mission.
I went on to say that as an Episcopal Church, and a member of the Anglican Communion, Christ Church's ministry and mission should reflect the Five Marks of Mission.
The Five Marks of Mission are an important statement on the mission of the church. They express the Anglican Communion’s common commitment to, and understanding of, God’s holistic and integral mission.
The Five Marks of Mission:
The mission of the Church is the mission of Christ
1. To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
2. To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
3. To respond to human need by loving service
4. To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind, and pursue peace and reconciliation
5. To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth
I asked then asked the question: "How do you think we are doing?
"As we look at the life of the community of Christ here at Christ Church how do you feel we are doing fulfilling the Anglican Communion's Five Marks's Mission?
How do you feel we are doing with the role and responsibility that Jesus was preparing the disciples for? On a more personal note: "how have you received the mission purpose that Jesus wants us to be involved in?"
Can I conclude this morning by saying that many students will attend their Graduation Ceremony this year and walk away with a shrug of their shoulders and an attitude that says: "well, I am glad that is over and done with all that."
They will, for a wide variety of reasons, not take up the call to a life of witness and example. They will have their "own agenda" for their lives and it won't have much to do with what they have learned and seen in their time in the institution that they are graduating from.
This leads me to ask the question: "do you think it is possible to walk away from our gathering time, here on Sunday, and do the same thing?"
Thursday was the day that, traditionally, followers of Christ celebrate The Ascension. This Sunday is the Sunday after The Ascension. Now that Jesus is no longer with us physically what are we depending on to carry on his mission and ministry to the world?
Next Sunday is Pentecost Sunday. It is the day when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit. What are we anticipating with the coming of the Holy Spirit? What impact has the coming of the Holy Spirit had on us? Acts 17: 28 (a) says: "For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’"
Is that true or are we "going through the motions" and hoping for the best?
How prepared are we to fulfill the trust and the confidence that Jesus has in us? Or perhaps a better question is how willing are we to fulfill the trust and the confidence that Jesus has in us?
Would people we meet this week recognize the activity of the Holy Spirit in us? Would they say of us that we are people who live with the Five Marks of Mission active in our lives?