By Deacon Jayne Baker
Diaconal Minister in the ELCA
Wow--pretty confusing prayer isn’t it--High priestly prayer--a kind of farewell prayer as well as intercessory prayer---and as such he is expressing some real concern for those who must remain in the world and witness to his word and to the Good News. Notice however, Jesus does not pray for all the woes of the world to be taken away; to make their life easy but rather Jesus said “ That they may be one."
WOULDN’T THAT BE ABSOLUTELY STUPEDOUS? in relationship with each other just as Jesus/God---Jesus is saying that we belong to God AND at the same time-- the world with all the oppressive systems must be dealt with.
I’m thinking that Jesus was worried about disunity after he left the community--He was quite familiar with the oppressive systems -We remember that Jesus was crucified because of oppressive systems---AND oppressive systems continue---The great thing about God’s word--it is not static--it is alive---and JESUS IS PRAYING FOR US--
In this prayer, I’m wondering if Jesus is pushing us to look at ourselves and ask the question--what is preventing us from being ONE just as Jesus and god are ONE ---lo look carefully and critically not only at the oppressive systems that exist today in our world that contribute to the disunity that is the world.----- but more importantly what is our role--pushing us to ask the tough question--what is our contribution to disunity???
It's easy to confuse our cultural truths with gospel truth. Cultural truths are those things that we are born into: gender, race, class, potential education levels, housing expectations. These are cultural things that we often simply accept as true--and they are--but they can also be the very things that separate us--that deaden us to other peoples’ realities--These are all things that make for the concept of THEM. Jesus taught very clearly--As long as there is them, there will never be US-- as long as there is a THEM we can never live into Christ’s hope “that they may be ONE”
Our personal contribution to DIS-unity --to DIVISION can be quite subtle--barely noticeable!!
1---we escape--we certainly love to go on vacation, go the the cabin in the woods cuts off from the rest of the world--to be unencumbered by the world--can be quite refreshing--like the play “Stop the World I Want to Get off” but not exactly what Jesus was talking about or teaching --OR DOING
2--we become complacent--reinforcing the status quo. Not as obvious as Judas bedtrayal but far more dangerous!!!! Things like “well it’s just the way the world is” approach --I can’t do anything about it; it doesn’t really affect me---.I’m here to tell you if you have decided not to do anything--you’ve already done something: you’ve decided to do nothing!! AND to compound the problem--- when the status quo is unjust or oppressive and we simply go along with it--then we have just colluded with injustice--and we have become the problem!!. ACTIVE INDIFFERENCE is the opposite of what Jesus has been teaching us.
As Martin Luther said:
Our life begins to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
3--we become judgmental--planting our feet in absolute dogmatic certainty--creating the THEM --making US impossible--simplistic labeling portraits of the world as divided along an axis of good and evil --those again us or with us--those who are LIKE US or NOT; those who we approve of or NOT, the right and the wrong--right or left
We all know life is not simplistic--it is complicated and there are no easy answers--the answers aren’t easy because we are always struggling with our brokenness --brokenness made visible in our:
and dogmatic certainty. BUT
Jesus tells us that we must continue to struggle to overcome those things that inhibit us from living into Christ’s prayful hope--“that we should be ONE-”
-to actively engage in the world-- even though the world can be so very difficult-and to dare to ask ourselves the tough question--the question that should take us to the large mirror in our bathroom or where ever it is located.
But lest we be tempted to get too hard on ourselves remember that you have just overheard Jesus praying for US--he remains-our communal cheering squad that forgives us and that we won’t be separated from the love of God even in our brokenness.