Over the years, I have learned that I will never forget books or plays that continuously repeat the same thing over and over. Even Hollywood has learned the lesson of repetition. Think of lines like “I’ll be back” from the Terminator movies or “In a galaxy far, far away” in the Star Wars movies or “Wax on, wax off” in 1984’s The Karate Kid. We remember these movies in part because of these repeated lines.
In today’s reading, Jesus keeps saying the same thing but using different words with each repetition. It is as if he holds a cut diamond in front of him and lets each facet manifest the different nuances of God’s will.
Jesus prays for those who believe in him because of the testimony of those who have had a firsthand experience with him. He then asks that these two groups be one and undivided, as he and his Father are one and undivided.
Not long after Jesus prays these words, the ever-widening rift between Christian Jew and Christian Gentile becomes problematic. Despite the work of Paul and Barnabas, this rift is only partially solved by the first council in Jerusalem. (See Acts 15.)
Since the advent of democracy in South Africa, the widening gulf between rich and poor is of concern to many. However, there always has been the realization that all are one in and through Christ. May we all pray Jesus’ prayer as we seek unity with him and among ourselves, thereby giving glory to God.
Dear God of all whom you create, help us to seek unity among your children. In the name of Jesus Christ, the One who prays for us. Amen.
How did you first hear about the gospel? Was it from your family or a friend? Or was it from a completely unexpected source? This week’s readings remind us that God uses many different techniques of revelation. Paul and Silas are in prison in Philippi, and the guard of the prison has no idea that he is about to encounter the power of God and come to faith. The psalmist says that creation itself reveals God’s glory and power. In Revelation, Jesus speaks directly about his future return and reign, as attested by his messenger and by the Spirit. Jesus prays in John for his followers, because through their unity the gospel will be proclaimed to others. Although Jesus ascends to heaven, the revelation of his plan and purpose does not end.
Read Acts 16:16-34. Recall a difficult time in your life. Were you able to continue to praise God through this time?
Read Psalm 97. Write your own word picture of what it means to be a child of God, who is in control.
Read Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21. How has Jesus’ invitation to partake of the water of life changed you?
Read John 17:20-26. What signs of division do you see in your community? How can you work toward the oneness to which God calls us?
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