The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
This is part of a long prayer from Jesus; an intercessory prayer from Jesus to God on behalf of the disciples.
It occurs just after the last supper and before his arrest. In John, there are added several chapters here: teachings Jesus gives to the disciples about the indwelling of God. Abiding in God…and about the Spirit/advocate who is to come who will prove the destructive forces of the World are wrong.
Through this prayer Jesus gives us the shape of eternal life; for his prayer is for his disciples, for us, and through the notion that the love of God and the Spirit of one-ness transcends time; it encompasses the now, the future and this one-ness-in-love which has been since before the foundation of the world.
Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Scholar Meda Stamper reflects, “eternal life will be an extension of the love of God stretching back before the foundation of the world, forward to us, and beyond us to the communion of the saints - and to those who may be able to experience God’s love through us.
And so the Easter season culminates where the Gospel began: with Jesus making God known so that the world may know that …we have a place in the creative love of God.”
And here we are with the culmination of the Easter season with two horrific mass shootings…pain that feels unbearable. Since January there have been more than 200 mass shootings (that means shootings involving at least four persons).
On Friday I watched the press conference from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Col. Steven McCraw, his face contorted in anguish as he read through the events of the day. Finally he cried. I’d say most of us have cried or felt sick to our stomach over these shootings.
We wonder where the love of God in us and through us is manifested?
Corinthians 12 was the first thing that came to mind:
“For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so, the body is not made up of one part but of many …If one part suffers, every part suffers with it..”
Our pain and anguish is God’s love manifest through us. How else could we feel such pain for people we do not know and haven’t met? We suffer because we have been blessed by God with the capacity to love deeply.
Let us pray for the people of Buffalo and “Youvaalde.” When we pray for them by name, we resist them becoming statistics:
Jose Flores, Jr., 10
Uziyah Garcia, 8
Amerie Jo Garza, 10
Xavier James Lopez, 10
Annabelle Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10
Rojelio Torres, 10
Eliahna “Ellie” Torres, 10
Jacklyn Cazares, 10
Jailah Nicole Silguero, 11
Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, 10
Ellie Garcia, 9
Alithia Ramirez, 10
Layla Salazar, 10
Makenna Lee Elrod, 10
Miranda Mathis, 11
Alexandria “Lexi” Aniyah Rubio, 10
Maite Yuleana Rodriguez, 10
Nevaeh Bravo, 10
Tess Marie Mata, 10
Eva Mireles, 44 (4th grade teacher)
Irma Garcia, 49 (4th grade teacher)
(The shooter was Salvador Ramos, 18.)
Roberta A. Drury, 32
Margus D. Morrison, 52
Andre Mackniel, 53
Aaron Salter, 55
Geraldine Talley, 62
Celestine Chaney, 65
Heyward Patterson, 67
Katherine Massey, 72
Pearl Young, 77
Ruth Whitfield, 86
Their earthly lives were taken violently - and too soon. But we must hold onto the knowledge that they continue in the communion of Saints and in the Body of Christ.
When we take communion we are given (as Paul states) the ONE Spirit to drink and eat. Through our Eucharist we sacramentally express that we are eternally connected to those that have come before us.
We come to the table to physically commune with Jesus, one another, and all the saints in a meal of remembrance.
On this Memorial Day weekend we also recognize and remember our military men and women who during their earthly lives made great sacrifices to protect our country.
We pray for all those who continue to be faced with the cost of war.
In this sad time, the world’s global level of Violence is pervasive. The United States is now always at War. It is perpetual. It is difficult to find movies, TV shows, or video games that don’t glorify violence. We are becoming inured to it. The violence in society is a mirror of the media we consume and how we solve problems on the World stage.
The end to violence through Jesus’ way is to deny the World and to consume love instead.
There is much debate as to whether violence begins at the individual level - or is a reflection of the culture. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
What we do know is that in the face of the World’s destructive power, Jesus taught us to pray. In that we do have some agency.
Violence can mutate at the microlevel with hurt, and pain and resentments. It is so necessary to understand those states as violent forces trying to work their way into our lives and families. It is important to recognize our negative and resentful feelings as poison.
Prayer is the antidote.
It may not feel like it is. That’s why prayer is referred to as a practice.
Silent prayer (as Jesus has taught us) is to go into our inner room. The practice of silent prayer helps us to see what our minds and hearts are grappling with. It is that opportunity to understand more deeply how we react and the chain reactions of our resentments that spin us into anger and ultimately forms of violence against others close to us, through unkind words and deeds.
Cutting these thoughts and turning to God when we feel them arise can become a practice that saves not only ourselves from suffering, but changes how we respond to others and may break a chain of suffering.
Jesus said Abide in me. To Abide in God is to bear witness. When we abide in God, we bear loving witness to ourselves and to others. It is how we stay awake to the small blessings of this life, and how we stay awake to pain - and to the pain of the World. As people of God we’ve been training, developing prayer practices to help us be Christlike: to cultivate love and joy, to stay awake - to identify with the suffering - not the destructive forces of the World.
Prayer is communal. Even when we silently pray we are doing so as part of the Body of Christ where we all are made one.
In today’s Gospel
Jesus prayed for his disciples, and then
[He prayed for us]
I think we all could use some intercessory prayer from Jesus!
“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us…”
The pain we feel today is there because God is in us.
And like Jesus, through our suffering, we pray as the one body for all the Saints through that eternal life: forward to those who may feel the power of love through us.
We pray stretching back for our lost loved ones; to the present for the people of Uvaalde, for the people of Buffalo, for the people of Ukraine, and Russia, for Yemen and Afghanistan.
And beyond us: we pray for all those we do not know and cannot name whose lives are bound up in our own through the creative love of God.
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The Rev. Heather K. Sisk