Homily: The ‘Other’ Lord’s Prayer
Acts 1:15-26 1 John 4:11-16 John 17:11-19 The Message
“Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed, saying: “Holy Father, keep them in your name so that they may be one just as we are one. When I was with You, I protected them and I guarded them, and none of them was lost. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. Consecrate them in the Truth. Your word is Truth.”
You know, Jesus wasn’t only praying for his disciples back then. We have to read we read just a verse or two further: “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word.
Who are “all those who believe in me through the disciples’ word”? Yes, we are. That’s right; you and I. Jesus, on the night before his death, prays for us. He taught his disciples and that we say each week. But there’s a way in which this scene gives us /another Lord’s Prayer, the prayer our Lord prayed — and is still praying — for us: that we might find the strength we need and be one. That, I think, is unbelievably sublime.
But, realize, Jesus is praying for you and me, even now. Jesus was praying for us then, and – you know what? — he still is. Each time we read this prayer, in fact, we are reminded of Jesus’ constant care and concern and compassion for us and of God’s love for all the world. This is, indeed, the work of the Holy Spirit/, the Advocate and Comforter: to remind us of Jesus’ active and ongoing love and compassion and to draw us more deeply together.
So, after all this, what do you want Jesus to be praying for you for right now? We don’t get any sense that we’ll be taken out of this world, or that all our problems will suddenly vanish, or that being a faithful Christian will be easy. But in light of that, what do you and I want Jesus to know, what do we need, what do we want Jesus to pray for? Is it patience to be a better parent or friend? Is it encouragement amid a difficult chapter of our lives? Is it courage to stand up to a bully or to abuse in our lives, or to befriend a friendless person at work or at school or in the neighborhood? Is it peace in the face of the loss of a parent or the end of a relationship? Is it hope when you feel like you’ve got no options left? Is it Is is companionship at a time of loneliness? Is it healing, of body, mind, or spirit? Is is forgiveness, or the ability to forgive one another? What? What do you and I want Jesus to know about and pray for?
To draw us more deeply into this passage and Jesus’ promises, I suggest that you pick up one of the blank cards you find in your pew, and write down one word that captures what they want Jesus to pray for. If there isn’t a card handy, you can certainly remember one word. Remember it and write it down when you get a chance. You could, of course, write out a whole prayer, but I think you know the larger content of the prayer; and writing just one word might help you feel a little more focused.
You can, if you choose, write out the whole prayer later. I want you to take that card with you — carry it in your pocket or purse — and pull it out from time to time during the coming week to remind yourself that Jesus knows your need, that Jesus cares about you, and that Jesus is praying for you.
And, maybe, you can also reflect during the week on your prayer, your need, and Jesus’ response. How, that is, do you sense Jesus being a part of this concern and area of your life. How might God be responding to your prayers.
One of the ways God responds to us is through each other, through the company of broken and forgiven people we call the church. That’s part of Jesus’ prayer that we may “all be one.” In fact, after you’ve written out your prayer, you might turn to each other and share just that one word with another person — whether or not they choose to explain it. (pause) now, all together, let’s all say our one word our loud, — louder –louder – one more time; there; good.
Now, let’s take a little bit of time, and silently, let’s join Jesus in praying for each other. (pause).
Jesus, all those years ago, was praying for us, for all of us who have believed because of the word that came down to us across the generations and now has been shared with, and entrusted to us. You are both the recipients and stewards of that word, and I want you to know that I am always praying for you. Now, as well, I will be praying that you might be renewed in your calling and strengthened for service in your greatest need..
David Lose Luther Seminary St. Paul, MN