Jogging in Place

May 31, 2023

Acts 1:15-26

24 Then they prayed and said, ‘Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.’ 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

            This week we are pondering in-between-times, those transitional periods as we go from one phase of life to another.  Jesus rose on Easter and we celebrated for 40 days until the Ascension when he returned to his original place of glory in the Godhead and he promised to return again.  We wait.  But he also told his followers to return to Jerusalem and wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit, Pentecost.  They waited.  Tomorrow we will celebrate Pentecost.

            Transitional, liminal times are challenging.  The followers waited, prayed and then chose Mathias to fill Judas’ empty spot.  It brings to mind a jogger running in place at a stoplight waiting to cross a street.  The runner is in the same spot but…yup, legs are churning to keep the heart rate up, watches are checked, and eyes are on the signal to be ready to run across the intersection as soon as the light changes.  Waiting, praying and planning are important.  They are preparing.

            We may be in one of those jogging-in-place times when the next step is not quite obvious.  It seems to me the followers did what was logical and what was necessary preparation.  I do not know that the choosing of Mathias was a great move but it was forward focused and a turn away from the grief of the cross to the anticipation of how the resurrection would unfold into their lives.  I notice they did not allow themselves to be consumed with anxiety about the loss of Judas or Jesus.  Their attitude is changing and even before Pentecost they are spiritually beginning to embracing a future that is about to unfold.

            Even we are on a journey through life.  It is so easy to become bogged down by guilt or worry about the past and our losses.  I wonder what “choosing Mathias” would look like in our lives.  Perhaps it is writing a letter of encouragement and affirmation to the graduate who is facing a new phase in life.  Perhaps it is decluttering some of the “memories” that are collecting dust but need to be released to the past.  I love the book Repacking Your Bags by Richard Leider and David Shapiro, 1995.  It was followed by Claiming Your Place at the Fire , 2004 by the same authors.  We all carry a briefcase, an overnight bag, and a suitcase that contain the “stuff” we need for each phase of life.  We need to periodically repack our bags, throw away that which is weighing us down, and identify the talents for the next phase.  The followers of Jesus were doing just that.  They did it in community and in prayer!  Good spiritual advice.  Let’s ask God if we need to declutter today and what we might need to do to prepare for the future he has for us.

Liminal Spaces

May 30, 2023

Acts 1:12-14

14 All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

         After the Ascension, the followers returned to Jerusalem to wait for God to fulfill his promise.  Yesterday we pondered how hard it is to wait for big events to happen.  There is that period between the proposal and the wedding.  There is the time between the conception and the birth.  There is the time between packing up to move and moving in to our new setting.  I like the word “liminal” that talks about inbetween times and spaces.  Perhaps the picture is like standing on a line or a balance beam and trying not to fall off.  As the future calls to us, the past reminds us who we are and whose we are.

         The followers returned to Jerusalem but Luke, the author of Acts, tells us that they “were contantly devoting themselves to prayer.”  That catches my eye.  I would be constantly planning.  Picking a name for the baby and getting the clothes ready.  Bugging my husband about the windows in the house and what kind of curtains I would need.  Checking out the reading list for the course to try and get ahead.  Watching the soil to see if it was time to start organizing my garden and what I would plant this year.  But these followers filled their time with prayer.  These are the same followers who went to Jesus and asked him to teach them to pray.  They saw that prayer was a secret to Jesus’ strength and they knew it was strategic now.  So let us honestly reflect for a moment.  How strategic is prayer in our lives right now.  Is it more formal and with our friends on Sunday in church?  Is it part of quiet times in mornings or evenings when we draw aside?  Perhaps it is more like a 911 call when we get in trouble.  Perhaps we have good prayer habits but perhaps we need a reminder to up our game cause we serve a risen Lord who cares about our lives and his Spirit is always ready to intercede for us.  Liminal spaces are not invisible spaces but good places to strengthen our prayer life!

Ascension – Waiting

May 29, 2023

Acts 1: 1-11 Acts 1: 1-11

“7 He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.”  Acts 1:7

         Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday and we wore red and celebrated the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives and that God speaks in every language.  But in reality, this week we have our spiritual feet in two seasons.  Last Wednesday was “Ascension” when Christ “ascended” to heaven and this Thursday is Pentecost when the gift of the Holy Spirit is celebrated.  The Pentecost season actually starts on Thursday.  Many think of ascension like Jesus on top of a hill, going up an elevator to heaven, somewhere beyond the clouds.  Acts 1 tells the story.

         Ascension can have two meanings though.  It can be like going up an escalator but the second meaning is seen when Prince Charles ascended at the Coronation, he became King Charles as he was born to be.  At the ascension Jesus returned to his glory as true God, having completed the incarnation, life, death and resurrection.  The Trinity is a mystery that we believe but is so hard to explain.  Jesus tells the followers to return to Jerusalem and wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit.  They ask Jesus, “when?”  We know that question.

         The followers wanted to know when the kingdom of heaven would be fully here.  We want to know when in many areas of our lives too.  When will mister right come along?  When will my husband finally decline, die and ascend to heaven?  So many questions and Jesus answers that it is not for us to know the answer to many of our when questions.  God’s timing is not our timing.  It is so hard to trust and wait.

         Isaiah 40:31 promises,

“but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
    they shall walk and not faint.”

Waiting on God develops strength, vision like eagles, perseverance like runners, and the ability to walk and not faint.  Pick one of those qualities and try to name an adjective that helps flesh out ‘waiting” for you and thank God that he is working on the right answer at the right time to our prayers.

“Come, Now is the Time to Worship”

May 27, 2023

When we’ve been here ten thousand years
Bright, shining as the sun
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun

Amazing Grace, by John Newton verse 6

         The liturgical Easter season ends today.  Tomorrow we enter “The Time after Pentecost.”  We have looked at Easter through the testimony of John Newton the author of “Amazing Grace” that is such a favorite hymn.  He does not try to convince us of his theories of the Bible.  He simplying calls out to his experience of God’s grace.  I want to close these six weeks with this worship song that resonated with so many hearts.  The video is by the author and gives context.  Praise because “Christ is risen” is for times we feel our prayers answered, for when we feel low and unheard, any place and any time.  Now is the time to worship.  Let’s not wait for eternity


May 26, 2023

Psalm 150

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty firmament!
Praise him for his mighty deeds;
    praise him according to his surpassing greatness!

Praise him with trumpet sound;
    praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
    praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with clanging cymbals;
    praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!

         John Newton’s famous hymn “Amazing Grace” concluded with a verse added on that reminds us that after 10,000 years of eternity we will still have eternity to sing God’s praise.  The book of Psalms in the Bible concludes with Psalm 150 talking about all the places and all the ways we can praise the Lord.  Easter season concludes this week and Sunday we enter Pentecost.  Yesterday a friend called from the other side of the States.  Her husband is declining with Alzheimer’s and mine is declining with Parkinson’s disease.  In our 20s we taught junior high together.  They came to Kenya to see us.  We have kept in touch.  Now we cry together.  At one point she said that it helped her to remember, “joy is a choice.”

         This week we have looked at praise.  John Newton praises God for saving him when he realized in the midst of a storm how truly lost he was.  He did not die but lived to fight against slavery in England.  The Apostle Paul praised God when God did not heal him from the illness that plagued him but gave him the strength of grace.  Yesterday we thought about praise just by the mere truth that we have a God who comes to us and understands our situations and that is cause for praise at all times.  Today we conclude by realizing that we can praise at any time, whether prayers are answered yes, no, or wait, and in any place, and in a multitude of ways.  We do have some agency in our responses.  I believe it is ok to cry.  Jesus cried over Lazarus’ death.  It is ok to lament over the evil in our world.  But ultimately we can choose praise and hope for we know God has a plan he is working out.  Some day we will have praised 10,000 years and still have eternity to praise more.  The Lord is Risen! He is alive and cares. Thank you Lord!

When we’ve been here ten thousand years
Bright, shining as the sun
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun

Amazing Grace, by John Newton verse 6

“Lift up your heads”

May 25, 2023

When we’ve been here ten thousand years
Bright, shining as the sun
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun

Amazing Grace, by John Newton verse 6

Yesterday was tough.  Words of praise were replaced with deep prayers and lament.  Tuesday a car hit my “little brother” coming home on his motorcycle from a visitation to a parishioner.  He slid across 30 feet of pavement and sustained multiple broken bones.  The surgery scheduled for yesterday morning had to be postponed to last night so my heart was praying for mercy all day.  My husband who is declining with Parkinson’s and dementia had new wounds on his feet last night.  Some days are like this.  Praise comes in the form of having a God to turn to, a God who knows pain, and a God who cried over death at Lazarus’ tomb.  I turned to Psalm 25, the psalm that goes with today’s date.  God’s word gave me words to bring my laments before a God who is risen, who sees me and my loved ones, and who cares.  Join me in reading it.

Psalm 25:  A Prayer for Guidance and for Deliverance of David.

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust; do not let me be put to shame;
    do not let my enemies exult over me.
Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame;
    let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation;
    for you I wait all day long.

Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love,
    for they have been from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to         your steadfast love remember me, for your goodness’ sake, O Lord!

Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
    for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

11 For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great.
12 Who are they that fear the Lord?
    He will teach them the way that they should choose.

13 They will abide in prosperity, and their children shall possess the land.
14 The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes his   covenant known to them.
15 My eyes are ever towards the Lord, for he will pluck my feet out of the    net.

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 Relieve the troubles of my heart, and bring me[a] out of my distress.
18 Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.

19 Consider how many are my foes, and with what violent hatred they hate me.
20 O guard my life, and deliver me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take         refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.

22 Redeem Israel, O God, out of all its troubles.


May 24, 2023

When we’ve been here ten thousand years
Bright, shining as the sun
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.

Amazing Grace, by John Newton verse 6

         We have many ways to praise God.  Music comes to mind and praise songs.  Some may think of the joy one feels at a beautiful sunset or sunrise and the awesome moments with God’s creation, nature.  I love those special moments watching my children or friends and just feel so blessed.  My heart explodes with gratitude and praise.  Mark 13:31 says, “Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away.”

         Jesus is called “The Word” by the apostle John when he says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and was God.”  God’s word, written and living, does not pass away and even 10,000 years into eternity we will be praising.  I find that very comforting in our world where relationships, finances, health and talents comes to an end.  The kingdom of heaven is not like the kingdom of this earth.  We only see vaguely now but then we will praise as we are loved and understood and accepted.  I can only bow my head in praise and say, “Thank you, Lord.”


May 23, 2023

When we’ve been here ten thousand years
Bright, shining as the sun
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun

Amazing Grace, by John Newton verse 6

“8 Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong. 

(2 Corinthians 12:8-10)”

We are coming to the end of the Easter Season when we look at how we can be assured of the truth of the resurrection.  How do we know the Lord is risen!  Is it only because we get what we want through prayer?

         John Newton testifies to his changed life in the hymn “Amazing Grace.”  He changed from being a hardened slave ship captain to being an outspoken advocate against slavery.  His life radically changed under his new found faith in Jesus when his life was saved in a storm at sea.  The apostle Paul, though, sings praises to God’s grace even as his life did not change.  He prayed three times to be healed and was not.  Many think it was some eye problem.  God did not heal Paul but Paul found by God’s grace the strength to endure his affliction.

         Often we gauge the reality of God and our worth to him by how life is going.  During tough times we may doubt our worth and after a good day, hopefully we remember to praise.  Paul challenges us to realize that when we are weak then God is working in ways we may not realize.  As I walk this journey of accompanying my husband as he declines, I have to remember that on the hard days when he, and hence I cry, that God is close and walking with him.  I do not know what challenge you face today but whether we see God’s hand rescue like John Newton did or whether we see God strengthen us when we are weak like Paul, we know God is working.  We will have eternity to praise for his presence during the ups and downs.  We have a future and a hope!


May 22, 2023

When we’ve been here ten thousand years
Bright, shining as the sun
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun

Amazing Grace, by John Newton verse 6

         Surprisingly, this final verse to Newton’s famous hymn “Amazing Grace” was not written by Newton but added on later as a fitting epitaph that summarized Newton’ testimony and his life.  Newton was a captain of a ship that transported slaves.  In a violent storm he lashed himself to the helm of his ship to navigate and in despair expecting eminent death, turned to his Bible.  He lived and his life was changed.  He was outspoken in the fight against slavery in England.  This verse came from “Jerusalem My Happy Home” (1970) used by Harriet Beecher Stowe in her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) that impacted the history of slavery in the United States.  By 1910 this verse was firmly associated with “Amazing Grace.”

         It is hard to imagine 10,000 years from now but I know I have taken courses where I was challenged to decide on the epitaph we would like put on our gravestone that would characterize our life.  Then we would be ready to begin living.  As my husband nears the end of his journey here on earth, stories are coming from friends who remember this moment or that.  I see themes threading his story together. 

         In many ways, Newton was a shining star like the sun representing how a God who incarnated, walked through death, and wants eternity with us, can change lives.  A risen Lord not only transformed him but he used his life to shine for justice and equality.  If you could shine for something, what would it be?  Let’s pray to let our light shine in whatever corner we are in today!  Blessings.

7th Sunday in Easter: Living Well

May 21, 2023

First Reading: Acts 1:6-14

6When [the apostles] had come together, they asked [Jesus], “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
12Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. 13When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

Psalm: Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35

1Let God arise, and let God’s enemies be scattered;
  let those who hate God flee.
2As smoke is driven away, so you should drive them away;
  as the wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.
3But let the righteous be glad and rejoice before God;
  let them also be merry and joyful.
4Sing to God, sing praises to God’s name; exalt the one who rides the clouds;  I Am is that name, rejoice before God!
5In your holy habitation, O God,
  you are a father to orphans, defender of widows;
6you give the solitary a home and bring forth prisoners into freedom; but the rebels shall live in desert places.
7O God, when you went forth before your people,
  when you marched through the wilderness,
8the earth quaked, and the skies poured down rain, at the presence of God, the God of Sinai, at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
9You sent a bountiful rain, O God;
  you restored your inheritance when it languished.
10Your people found their home in it;
  in your goodness, O God, you have made provision for the poor.
32Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth;
  sing praises to the Lord.
33You ride in the heavens, O God, in the ancient heavens;
  you send forth your voice, your mighty voice.
34Ascribe power to God,
  whose majesty is over Israel; whose strength is in the skies.
35How wonderful you are in your holy places, O God of Israel,
  giving strength and power to your people! Blessed be God!

Second Reading: 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11

12Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. 14If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.
5:6Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. 7Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. 8Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. 9Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. 10And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. 11To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.

Gospel: John 17:1-11

1After Jesus had spoken these words [to his disciples], he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, 2since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. 5So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.
6“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. 7Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8for 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. 9I 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. 10All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11And 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.”


One of my favorite unwind movies is “Ever After”.  It retells the story of Cinderella.  In France the Brothers Grimm visit an old lady in a castle who holds up a glass slipper and puts the story into context.  As she concludes, she says this classic line, “It does not matter that they lived happily-ever-after.  It matters that they lived!”  I love it.  It does not matter that we live happily-ever-after but that we live.  Turn to your neighbor and share for a moment just one thought on what “living well” means to you.

Let us pray.  Lord, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, my Rock and my Redeemer.


         “The hour has come,” prays Jesus after he has walked to Gethsemane with his followers, after the Last Supper and after he has imparted his last words of wisdom.  “The hour has come.”  We have come to the end of the Easter Season.  Thursday is Ascension and next Sunday we celebrate Pentecost. It reminds me of Lion King near the end, as Simba looks over Prideland that he is about to rule and Rafiki, the prophetic bird, says, “It is time.”  Perhaps you felt that way before the wedding as you prepared to enter or as you waited to enter the operating room or as you entered the procession for graduation.  “The hour has come” signifies a change, a transition to a new phase.  It is a feeling mixed with the excitement of anticipation and perhaps fears of the unknown future.

“Glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you”

         Easter Sunday is not the end of the God story that the Bible tells.  Christ died for our sins.  Sometimes we stop there and leave off the Old Testament and all that build up to the Gospels and act as if my salvation is the whole point of Christianity.  But the story is not over.  The Bible is not a Jesus story but God speaking to us about himself and his walk with us.  The hour has come for the next phase.  Jesus prays to be glorified so that God is glorified.  Jesus names glorification as the next phase.  Glory is a hard word to get our minds around.  Let’s see if we can unpack it a little.  Our text starts with glory invoking the reality of authority.


“glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you,

 2since you have given him authority over all people,

 to give eternal life to all whom you have given him”

         The father gave the son authority over people, the authority to give them eternal life.  Authority is delegated from the Father to the Son.  We did not elect Jesus “savior” because we believe.  President Biden has authority because he is the elected president of the United States and we are bound to live under his influence whether we voted for him or not.  The majority of people chose him.  Jesus does not have authority that we respect, generated by winning an election.  He does not rule a democracy.  God declared him the “savior”.  The kingdom of this world may be a democracy but the kingdom of God is a theocracy, a realm ruled by God and Jesus has lived that example through out the Gospels.  He healed.  He walked on water by his own authority.  He cast out demons.  He lived showing us what heavenly authority looks like.

         Jesus has the power to give us eternal life in the heavenly kingdom.  When Jesus says that he is “the way, the truth, and the life” he is referring to life now and eternal life.  As we submit to his authority we find life.  This side of eternity that may mean small glimpses like finding hope when we are discouraged by turning to him in prayer.  It may mean we find love when we offer forgiveness to an enemy as Jesus told us to and the renewed relationship surprises us with love.  It may mean we find the strength to run the race as Eric Liddell testified in “Chariots of Fire,” “Where does the strength come to run the race?  It comes from within.”  These are glimpses of the eternal life we find in Christ. He has authority to give us eternal life as a gift, not as a paycheck for good deeds or reward for faith.  We praise him when we see his way working.  We glorify him as we rejoice.

         Christ’s authority comes from relationship to the Father, not from popularity with people.  Christ’s authority comes from finishing the task that was laid before him.  He has achieved eternal life that he gives and we have looked at this truth through the Easter season.  He is not giving us campaign promises that he hopes to fulfill when he gets in office if the other political party cooperates.  We don’t follow his leadership because it makes sense and accomplishes the task we chose him for.  We follow because he and the Father are one and he has finished the task he incarnated to do and he now returns to his original glory and eternal authority.

         This may be the moment when I take my faith temperature and ask myself if my faith looks like a democracy or is it based on a relationship where I bow to the authority and wisdom of the Christ?  

  “name” and “words”

         Christ came with a goal.  He came to make God’s name known.  Yes, he accomplished our redemption but in doing so he glorifies God.  Most people alive acknowledge the probability of the existence of a god but the nature of that god is up for discussion.  We have tales of super heroes and gods that intermarry and may even mate with humans.  We have tales of “forces” that guide our actions and are sources of power and fight with the “dark side.”  Perhaps we even like to think of Jesus as Dumbledore of Harry Potter and Satan as Voldemort.  Some would say we worship materialism, wealth, and talent.  We have all different ways we can access “power’ from whatever “god” today.  Perhaps in Biblical times the Baals were sources of fertility but it seems like our Baals are sources of power.  Jesus says he has made God’s name known and glorified.  God is not like other gods of this world. 

         Secondly Jesus has made God’s “words” known to us.  God speaks!  God speaks in every language.  God speaks over millennium.  We know about God’s character and about his wishes for us. We can read Scripture and we can look at the life of Jesus, God incarnate.  God came to us and revealed himself.  I know no other god that comes to walk with its creation, to create relationship that carries into eternity.  Jesus has made the nature of God known to us by coming to us and has made his words real to us in the actions of his life.  Jesus did not demand that Rome become Jews or live by the laws of Moses but lived a life that invited all to follow. God’s word glorifies God.

         The words Jesus taught us were to reveal God.  We love our neighbor as ourselves, we love our enemy as ourselves, and we love the foreigner as ourselves because they are God’s creation.  Our love glorifies God and Christ came to all people.

“…protect them in your name that you have given me,

 so that they may be one, as we are one…”

         Jesus ends this High Priestly Prayer with a very touching note.  He prays for our protection and our unity.  Please allow me to repeat that.  He prays for our protection and our unity.  Jesus walked with the poor, the sick, the demon possessed, in halls of power, through stormy seas, during times of popularity when all yelled “hallelujah” and during times of distain when the crowds yelled “crucify him.  He walked through birth and he walked through death.  This God we worship today is three dimensional and real.  He is not sitting far off in a cloud or on a different planet.  Jesus prays that this God who is present in our world, will protect us from evil.  No matter how bad the situation may seem, the God of the universe is protecting us. 

         This is not a universal prayer for the masses but a prayer of relationship for “friends.”  Interestingly Jesus connects this protection with unity.  In times of trouble, it is possible to try and be a lone ranger but I suspect that it is during hard times we not only have God’s protection but we also have the buffer zone of the body of Christ.  We have each other.  Hard times draw us together.  In my humanity, I tend to not want others to see me when I am ugly, weak, or needy for fear of their criticism and rejection.  Jesus knows the pain of hard times and I suspect he knows how important were those women gathered at the foot of the cross, those three sleepy friends who didn’t stay awake in the Garden of Gethsemane but were present, and maybe even his God heart was touched by the wisemen traveling to experience his birth.  It is the end of the Easter season and we know “the Lord is risen” because we experience him in community.  May our differences not drive us apart. 

“…the hour has come…”

         The hour has come. God’s story is not over. God now entrusts his story into our hands as he has our back.  We are not abandoned. Jesus did not “social distance” to heaven until he returns to judge.  He completed his work on earth and empowered us to continue the story. The Holy Spirit is with us.  Our lives and our faith, which may feel small and invisible, are involved in bringing glory, honor and praise to God for eternity. May we not give in to that which divides and may we nurture those habits that keep us in relationship with others and with God, our source of strength, life and protection.  May we not seek to live happily ever after but may we seek to live a life that glorifies God.

Let the people of God say “AMEN!”