Today’s gospel reading is part of Jesus’ high priestly prayer that he prays before his crucifixion. Some scholars have proposed that it actually belongs in the gospel after the crucifixion. One of the reasons it makes a good, comforting reading for today, is because today, we stand at the in between time; Jesus has ascended to the Father, and now we and his disciples await the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate and guide. As the disciples wait in this in between time, I imagine they are feeling some of the old fear and grief creep in. What will happen to them during this time? We know that their world is hardly a safe place; those who killed Jesus are still out for their own interests, and we already know that they will do anything to keep themselves safe and in power.
Beloved, it isn’t really all that different for each of us. If we are who we claim to be, if we are modern day disciples of Jesus, then Jesus prays this prayer for us as well. We are his; we are in the world; as beloved children of God we are to be one in Jesus as he and the Father are one. And, as we have talked about before, because we are one with Jesus, because we have an intimate relationship with him and with the Father, we are able to live in joy, no matter what the world may throw in our direction. As I read this gospel passage, it reminded me that Jesus is praying for all of us to help us deal with the world. And let’s remember, God so loved the world… it’s not that we are to be so separate from the world that we are not concerned for it – after all, this is the same world that God the Father loved, and God the Son died for… but we also know that sin exists, and that as people who often lose their way, we can get side tracked and led astray; we can forget whose we are; we can forget to see Jesus is all people that we meet because we let fear and self preservation take over our thoughts. We allow things like wealth and status make their way into our consciousness so that the life that is defined by living in the kingdom slips away. It happens to all of us. Jesus knows that and his prayer is for us to be able to face what comes while holding fast to him, to the Father, and to each other.
And so Jesus prays. He prays for all of humanity in this prayer. And because God knows our struggles, we await the coming of the Advocate who will live in us, and connect us to Jesus and the Father. This Advocate, this Spirit of Truth will indeed guide us so that we might continue the work of bringing the kingdom of God into being here on earth. That is something that I hope we can all remember. Our life in Christ isn’t just about eternal life after our mortal bodies die. That is certainly important. And we get there because we are forgiven. Being disciples is also about our lives in the here and now. Being in the world sometimes means that we do things that may not be popular because we are putting the needs of God’s children ahead of earthly power and status. Bringing the kingdom into being on earth as in heaven means that we are free from the bondage of our sin and from the bondage of cares of the empire because we believe, because WE KNOW there is a better way. As we live into that better way, the world is transformed from empire into kingdom; and we must continue to work toward the kingdom so that all of God’s people might live even their earthly lives in peace and in justice.
It’s a lot to think about. It’s a lot to wonder what our individual parts might be in the greater plan of bringing about the kingdom. The good news is that we don’t do kingdom work on our own; we are surrounded by those who have come before us and those who labor with us now. And Jesus is praying. He is praying to give us what we need to be his disciples here, today, on this earth that he loves. If Jesus is praying for us, how could we possibly lose?