The Rev. Sam Loudenslager

Seventh Sunday Easter, Year C – May 8, 2016

7 Easter Year C

This morning’s gospel is the conclusion of an entire prayer that Jesus prayed just before his arrest. As I’ve said before I am a slow learner. Usually, the seventeenth chapter of John’s gospel confuses me. When I read aloud the chapter this time I realized that this is Jesus’ last blessing on his followers before his arrest. This prayer paints a picture that sums up the how and the why for the presence of Jesus both then and now.

Is the passage for today confusing? Perhaps, but listen again “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 prayer is very close to describing the interconnectedness of the three persons of the Trinity and it’s a prayer for the world. Jesus prays: “I ask not only on behalf of these (followers), but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they (we) may all be one.” He is describing the world’s connectedness to God, to Jesus and to everything other. He prays “as you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe…” We hear that what God gave Jesus, Jesus in turn has given us. This is a unity with each other that must exist the way that Jesus describes the unity he has with God and his disciples. It is a unity that we can’t begin to understand unless we step outside of how we see ourselves and try to understand how we are seen by God as being connected to each other and unified by God through Jesus.

This still sounds like some sort of “out there” relationship so think about it differently.

Think of it as God being love which is true. If God is love then so is Jesus. What did we hear? You are in me as I am in you and they are in us. Don’t we believe this at a very fundamental level? Isn’t that what happens sacramentally when we eat and drink the bread and the wine, the body and the blood of Christ. When do that we are chewing and ingesting love.

Jesus tells us that God is in him and that he is also in God and in us and that God is in us.

We usually think in terms of presence in one direction but today we are told that isn’t the case. We are in Jesus, Jesus is in us and we are in each other. Isn’t that the essence of love? Isn’t it a case of being part of those you love and vice versa? All of this happens through the love that we know exists in the world. It’s hard to see but it’s there.

The connectedness through love that Jesus prays for overwhelms any differences we have. It overwhelms our prejudices. It overwhelms our fears and our hatreds. This is a love that even overwhelms Christianity. It is a love that somehow includes not only all Christians but also those of any other faith.

It’s a love that reminds us that love is larger than being right; larger than conservative or liberal, larger than any faith tradition, even larger than death. It’s a love so large that due to our connectedness through it Jesus prays that we live in unity with each other. This isn’t restricted to humanity but includes all creation.

“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.” To close the loop is sometimes hard. We show the same love we are shown when we stop to see those around us and remind ourselves of our interrelatedness through love.

We show that same love when we listen to, when we work with and when we are present to the needs of all creation. That’s the hard part of the loop to close. Our one focus is to love each other and all creation as God loves. Think about the current (or any) political season in this country. Because of our connectedness by love we are called to love Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump and their supporters in spite of what they say or do. The point though is that God loves everyone and everything as much as I know that I am loved by God – not less and not more but simply the same.

This is a love we are called to live that is defined as a willingness to serve all of creation and each other in spite of our differences. This is servanthood born in love to others that we know means we should expect to lose something and has been summed up as “those who want to gain their life must lose it”.

Part of this loss of life is to begin living in a way that doesn’t require that we be right or the best or on top. Losing our life means to turn our backs on the voices of fear that we live with each day and understand at a deep level that our insistence on being ‘right’ can be ‘wrong’ and keep us from experiencing God that is part of all of creation.

It’s only when we are able to be present to each other in love that we will be aware of the essence of God that is in each of us and aware that each of us is connected. It’s not love based on good works. It’s just the opposite. It’s works that are grounded in the love expressed in Jesus’ prayer for us.

In the knowledge of God’s love for us and all creation, Amen