Let us pray.
Lord Jesus, may we be one
As you and the Father are one
So that the world may know
How much you love us.
This Gospel is a convicting Gospel.
Every time I read it,
And I read it pretty often,
I am convicted by the fact
The descendents of Jesus’s disciples
Are not one.
It’s just a fact!
You don’t have to look far to see it.
It’s rampant throughout our history.
We have spent centuries
Not only shouting at each other
About what communion means
And how to read the Bible
And who’s allowed to be ordained
But we have also literally murdered one another
In increasingly horrible ways
Because we disagree
About how best to respond to Jesus.
It’s almost as if He knew.
We hear today
The conclusion of what scholars call Jesus’s Farewell Discourse.
I’m sure it didn’t sound quite as lofty at the time,
But all the same:
If we’re looking at John’s Gospel, anyway,
It sure seems like the Last Supper was an awfully big deal.
Jesus makes some pretty grand pronouncements
And issues some pretty hefty commandments.
Just as I, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet,
So too you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
Do not let your hearts be troubled;
Believe in God, believe also in me.
I am the way, the truth, and the life.
Greater love has no one than this:
To lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends;
I no longer call you servants.
And in the section we heard today:
The glory that you have given me I have given them,
So that they may be one, as we are one,
So that the world may know that you have sent me
And have loved them
Even as you have loved me.
And that’s the part that convicts me,
Because you see,
Our lack of unity isn’t a problem
Only because sometimes we end up hurting one another
When we put our need to be right,
To have found the only right way to read the Bible,
The only right way to worship,
Theonlyright way to ethically live in the world
Above the needs of others,
Though that is pretty bad.
Our lack of unity is a problem
Because Jesus prays that we might be one
So that the world may know
That God has sent Jesus
And loves the world
Even as he loves Jesus.
When we are not one,
The world doesn’t see,
Doesn’t recognize that good news
That God loves us
All of us
The whole world
Just as much as God loves Jesus.
The world looks at us,
A divided Church,
And doesn’t see a lot of love.
They don’t see a community that,
As it says elsewhere in Scripture
Has the same mind in us that was in Christ Jesus,
Who, though he was in the form of God and had equality with God,
Because he did not regard actual, literal equality with God
As a thing to be grasped.
A thing to be exploited.
Was and is co-equal with God
In every imaginable way.
He was and is one with God the Father,
Completely unified and inseparable.
And when it was necessary
For God to come to earth
To initiate a relationship with a sinful human race
That had rejected him
Over and over again,
Jesus didn’t say,
“Hold up, you know what sounds like no fun at all?
Living among those stinky humans for 30 years
And then getting crucified.
Sounds like a you problem.”
Jesus humbled himself,
Even to the point of death
On the cross.
And in so doing,
He united us –
Our sinful, stinky selves
Who have been dragged kicking and screaming
Into goodness –
And with God.
And now we,
Who have been given this free gift of grace
For which we ought to be thanking God on our knees
Every single day
For this extraordinary gift
That we do not deserve
That we could not deserve
In any imaginable universe
Have the audacity
To turn around and try to shut the door behind us.
To try to grasp
The little, tiny authority and glory that has been granted to us
As a gift from God
To which we are not entiled.
To say to people
“You’re not an actual pastor,”
Because they’re a girl.
“You’re not an actual Christian,”
Because they’re gay.
You can’t sit with us
Because we’re right with God
And you’re not.
I mean, do we hear ourselves?
Now, I know some folks disagree in good faith,
But here’s the thing:
When Jesus prays that we may be one,
He’s not asking us all to agree.
He’s not saying that we have
To come to one unified position
About what certain passages in the Bible mean
Or how we ought to worship.
If we look at the world around us,
We can see that the God who creates
The spectacular diversity of creation,
Purple mountain’s majesty
And amber waves of grain
Pines and maples
Great prairies spread
And lordly rivers flowing
From coast to coast to coast
And the whole world round
To every single continent and island
Does not shy away from difference.
Is not the same thing
Does not require one, single, agreed-upon point of view.
I had a meeting last week
With Archdeacon Travis,
And he taught me something
About the way that the Cree view the idea of consensus.
I have always thought of consensus as agreement.
Everybody is on board.
But Archdeacon Travis said that the Cree have a different way of seeing it.
That in their culture consensus means
“I can live with it.
I might not like it.
But I can live with it.”
The unity of the Church
Isn’t a state that we achieve
By bullying everyone into agreement
And forcing out those who feel differently.
The unity of the Church
Is a gift from our Creator
So that the world he loves
May know how much he loves.
And so we need not feel guilty
For failing to reach the oneness he prays for,
Since it was never our job to make it happen anyway.
But I hope you will join me in feeling convicted
Into working for unity.
Wrestling with it.
Laying down our pride for it.
Laying down our lives for it.
Because being kind is more important than being right.
And the world getting to see
Just how much God loves us all
Is the only reason the Church exists.