Sunday, May 31, 2015

Trinity Sunday: Reconciled to the Trinity in Unity

Lectionary: Isaiah 6:1-8; Canticle 13; Romans 8:12-17; John 3:1-17
Preacher: The Rev Dr Valori Mulvey Sherer, rector

En el nombre del Dios: Padre, Hijo, y Espiritu Santo. Amen.

We were told in seminary that Trinity Sunday would be the hardest day on the church calendar to preach. Word is… many rectors pawn this day off on alternative preachers – the deacon, a licensed lay reader, a guest preacher … Well, it’s my turn to preach according to our annual preaching ROTA, so that’s what I’m gonna do.

The truth is, I don’t find this the hardest day to preach. I find every Sunday hard to preach. For me, it isn’t the topic, it’s the process. It’s always a challenge to get out of the way, to surrender my thoughts, open my heart and receive the message God wants to speak.

The temptation is to give “good” sermons that comfort and inspire when sometimes God calls for faithful sermons that may be unsettling or disturbing. Anyway, preachers don’t get to choose – if we’re being faithful to our ministry. As the saying goes, sometimes we’re called to comfort the disturbed, and sometimes to disturb the comfortable.

The fear, on Trinity Sunday, is heresy. We all have them – and preachers are likely to reveal ours during our attempts to discuss the mystery of God.

I don’t worry about that because I’m quite certain that I can’t think my way through the mystery of God who is Trinity in Unity, and I’m not really motivated to try. The Quiqunque Vult, also known as the creed of St. Athanasius (on page 864 in our BCP), does that better than I could ever hope to do and I’m satisfied with his attempt.

What I enjoy is reading that creed - out loud – and letting the words “happen” to me. At some point, my brain surrenders and my heart opens to the truth being revealed. If you haven’t done so lately, I recommend reading the Athanasian creed – out loud – as a spiritual meditation.

The online discussions about Trinity Sunday have been hysterical – everything from preaching Trinity through interpretive dance to a YouTube video called “St. Patrick’s bad analogies” ( which does a really good job of explaining some of our most beloved and still held heresies. It is a production of the Lutheran Church and well worth the watch.

I said earlier that we all have heresies and I could practically feel some of you bristle (…‘No, I don’t’). But unless you can recite the Quiquncque Vult, it’s nearly impossible to avoid heresy when trying to talk about God who is Trinity in Unity. Human concepts and words are simply inadequate to the task. As Brother Robert L’Esperance from the SSJE says: “The Trinity is useful as a way of keeping us silent before the mystery of God.”

My heresy? Patripassianism, a Sabellian heresey which says that God the Father suffered as the Son. I can go there… though I can’t go as far as Sabellian went with the rest of his theology which, I agree, strayed too far from the truth, which makes it heresy.

Even our beloved St. Patrick of Ireland couldn’t do it. His discussion of the Trinity using the analogy of a shamrock actually fails as the heresy of Modalism (the church councils never condemned the heresy of “partialism” as the video calls it). The shamrock analogy fails because it denies the distinctiveness of the three persons of the Trinity.

Then, there’s the Bible Belt’s favorite heresy, often called “Jesus-olatry” which is a modern form of Tritheism combined with Modalism and a hint of Appolonaarianism. Right? Here’s what I mean: Jesus-alotry overemphasizes the distinction of the persons of the Trinity, prioritizing one (Jesus) over the other two because of what he did, and rendering the Unity of the Trinity little more than an intellectual abstraction.

The thing is, heresies are simply teachings that either don’t get close enough to the truth or go too far and dash right past the truth. They are an inevitable outcome when trying to faithfully nail down mystery using human concepts and words.

Imperfect teachings about God can be helpful, however, as in St. Patrick’s shamrock. It’s still a helpful way to begin.

And since heresies can’t undo our Baptism or our salvation, we can relax, remembering Jesus’ words from our gospel reading: “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

Can anyone tell me the citation for this? It follows what I call “the football citation” most everyone knows… Right – it’s John 3:17. Always know John 3:17 because here is the comfort we have when we feel like Isaiah did in the presence of God: “Woe is me! I am… a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips.”

The background for this story is that Isaiah has been doing what a prophet does – denouncing the people of Judah for their sin and warning them of judgement. Then Isaiah has a mystical experience, finding himself in the presence of God, and he is confronted with his own sinfulness, his own inadequacy. They are not the only ones sinning, i.e., separating themselves from God.

So God acts to free Isaiah from that which separates him from God, sending a seraph (a 6-winged being) to ritually cleanse him. And this is the theme that carries through our lectionary readings on this Trinity Sunday: God acts to reconcile us – to make us one with God who is Trinity in Unity.

In the reading from Romans, Paul reminds us God’s Spirit is one with our spirit making us one with God. In the last line in this reading Paul says: “…in fact, we suffer with [Christ, Paul says,] so that we may be glorified with him.” This actually translates from the Greek as “so that we may be glorified together” and it implies a union, a co-existence.

God acts to reconcile us – to make us one with God who is Trinity in Unity.

And in our gospel reading, Jesus is visited by the Pharisee, Nicodemus, who comes to him at night (Bible-talk for darkness of mind, or ignorance). Nicodemus opens the conversation with a complimentary statement: “…we know you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.”

Jesus replies with what seems like a non sequitur: “No one can see the kingdom without being born from above.” Huh?

Then Jesus launches into a discussion of flesh (Bible-talk for matter) and spirit, leaving Nicodemus, who is a faithful Pharisee, but spiritually ignorant, exasperated: “How can these things be?” he asks.

Jesus sounds a little frustrated too as he responds to Nicodemus, until he reconnects with a story from their Scripture: Moses lifting up the bronze serpent so that God can heal the people who are dying in the wilderness (Bible-talk for their lost-ness, their separated-ness).

Now, God is acting again, Jesus says, only when the Son of Man is lifted up, “…whoever believes in him [will] have eternal life…” that is, life in the eternal presence of God. Jesus then offers this powerful conclusion about God who acts as God has always acted - to reconcile us – to make us one with God who is Trinity in Unity: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

That’s the bottom line, isn’t it? And it’s our Good News. God desires that the world might be protected, healed, and made whole (which is what that Greek “saved” translates as) through the Son.

Speaking of Good News, did you share your story of the mighty deed God has done in your life with someone outside the church last week? (This is the deadline, you know) I’d love for us to share with each other about how that went, because sharing the Good News is how we participate with Christ in the ministry of reconciliation.

We may not be able, or even motivated, to think our way through the mystery of God, so we can just relax, surrender our minds, and open our hearts to God, and be eternally one with the Trinity who is Unity. Amen.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Telling our Good News

In my sermon last Sunday, I challenged our family at Redeemer to make “real” our call to spread the good news to the ends of the earth, and I suggested a Trinitarian way to do it. Here’s what I said: “I challenge each of us… to honor God our Creator and identify one mighty deed of God in our lives one time when God acted powerfully, miraculously, transforming our lives; then to
honor Jesus Christ our Savior, the author of the church on earth, let’s tell one other person in this church about that mighty deed and let’s do that sometime today; then (and here’s the challenging part) let’s honor the Holy Spirit who makes us all one by telling one person outside the church about that mighty deed of God in our lives and let’s do that sometime this week. Some of us work better with a deadline.”

I was gladdened and inspired by the number of people who shared with one another and with me amazing stories of how God had acted mightily in their lives. Our Pentecost picnic was filled with holy energy from our sharing of these stories. I was also impressed by how well and how easily people shared their stories. It’s clear that we know how to proclaim the Good News! Sometimes we just need a reminder to do it.

So this is our “deadline reminder” for the third part of that – to tell our Good News, the story of one mighty deed God has done in our lives, to someone outside of our church family, and to do that sometime this week. Have you proclaimed the Good News to someone out there yet?

Episcopalians tend to shy away from “the E-word” (Evangelism) because we don’t sync with the way we often see it done. We are not Bible thumpers, door-bell ringers, or shouters of fire and brimstone on street corners – and thanks be to God for that.

Threatening damnation, trying to control behavior, and wielding the Holy Scripture as a weapon just isn’t how we Episcopalians approach evangelism. For us, evangelism is as easy as telling our story – the amazing thing God has done in our lives as individuals and as a community of faith. We have a story to tell – an amazing story of life, death, resurrection, reconciliation, and forgiveness - and any one of us, EVERY one of us can do that.

Let me know how it goes when you tell your story “out there” this week. Maybe we can make time to share those with one another too. My guess is, these experiences will surprise and delight us.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Pentecost, 2015: In the unity of the Holy Spirit

Lectionary: Ezekiel 37:1-14; Psalm 104: 25-35,37; Acts 2:1-21; John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
Preacher: The Rev Dr. Valori Mulvey Sherer, Rector

En el nombre del Dios: Padre, Hijo, y Espiritu Santo. Amen.

Please take out your lectionary insert and let’s say together our Collect for today: Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever
and ever. And we responded together saying, “Amen.”

What struck me as I read this prayer was the phrase: “…in the unity of the Holy Spirit…” This is something we hear so often as we gather together to worship.It ends just about every Collect and Prayer we say and it concludes all four of our Eucharistic Prayers.

We’re using Eucharistic Prayer A today, so we’ll hear this conclusion: “By him, and with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and for ever. Amen."

“…in the unity of the Holy Spirit.”

Though we pray this often, have we stopped lately to think about what it means? Well, today’s a good day to do that because this phrase is, for me, the essence of Pentecost.

In our gospel reading from John, Jesus is preparing his followers to live and carry on the work he began - without him. They are, understandably, sad, and knowing this, Jesus comforts them saying, “It’s to your advantage that I go away…” Then he begins to describe how the Holy Spirit will complete his work in the world – through them!

Here’s how that works… The Unity of God who is Trinity has been revealed as unifying divinity and humanity in Jesus, the Incarnation. Richard Rohr says that Coptic Christians in the first and second century, understood Jesus as “a dynamic and living (interactive) union of human and divine in one person. They saw Christ as the living icon of the eternal union of matter and Spirit in all of creation.”

It was through Christ, then, that the third person of the Trinity could be revealed and only because of humanity’s experience with Christ that we were ready to receive the Holy Spirit. Remember, it was in the resurrection appearance in the Upper Room that Jesus gave the disciples his peace, breathed his Spirit on them, and granted them the power to forgive sin.

But the disciples, like so many of us today, continued to hold this gift of divine presence as separate from them. God was out there – in heaven, in Scripture, in the tradition, even in the Incarnate God who was crucified and resurrected – in whom they finally believed. Still, God was out there, other than them.

And that’s why Jesus had to go. Jesus’ ascension opened the way for those first disciples to recognize the divine presence, the Holy Spirit of God, who abides in them, making them one with God, one with one another, one with all.

In the unity of the Holy Spirit… and that’s what they proclaimed. That’s the Good News they shared.

On this Day of Pentecost, we celebrate the Holy Spirit of God, the third person of the Trinity, proclaimed by those first disciples as revealed in ways that could be seen (tongues as of fire), heard (a sound like a rushing wind), and experienced (all were amazed). This was the fulfillment of the promise of God handed down through the prophets. In fact, in his sermon, Peter quotes the prophet Joel who said: “God declares, … I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy…even upon my slaves, both men and women… I will pour out my Spirit and they shall prophesy…”

The same is true for us today.

On this Day of Pentecost, the moment has come for us to recognize the divine presence that abides in us and proclaim it so that those who are dry bones in our time can hear of “God’s mighty deeds” as Peter said, so they can hear the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ and be restored to life.

Like Ezekiel, Peter, and the disciples, our call is to hear and do the will of God, then watch the work of God happen through our faithfulness.

How do we know the will of God? How do we hear it? We start by believing – believing that that God is speaking in and through us now just as truly as God was speaking in and through Ezekiel, just as truly as God was speaking in and through Peter and the disciples on that first Pentecost.

It’s important to note that it wasn’t until after Ezekiel had done as God had asked that God revealed to Ezekiel who the dry bones were. It didn’t matter whether Ezekiel thought they were deserving of life, or deserving of God’s mercy. It only mattered that God wanted this people to live and sent Ezekiel to be the instrument, the one through whom God would be proclaimed, and life would be restored.

And on that first Pentecost, the disciples were gathered with people from many nations, races, and languages, Jews and non-Jews, people who practiced religion, and people who didn’t, men and women, slaves and free people. God didn’t ask the disciples to find and speak only to those worthy to hear, or qualified to hear, or even to those ready to hear.

God said proclaim, prophesy -tell the Good News you know and watch me act through your faithfulness. So they did… and the Spirit of God spoke through them and all gathered could hear and understand. No one could explain how or why it happened, only that it did happen.

There are dry bones in the world today, people who are desperate to hear the Good News we have to share. So instead of worrying, instead of separating out and excluding those who we deem unworthy or undeserving, we should be about the work we’re called to do: to proclaim, to prophesy.

We can expect that some people won’t like it when we proclaim this Gospel. It isn’t the news they want spread. They want the certainty of an afterlife filled with folks like them, people they approve of – the “right” people.

I’ll bet the Jews didn’t love it when Ezekiel told them they were the dry bones. No one likes being told they are dry bones especially when they’re trying so hard to get it all right.

But they were the dry bones in their time. Who are the dry bones in our time? Christianity? The Episcopal Church? The Church of the Redeemer? You?

The good news is, God restored the dry bones to life! And God used a faithful prophet to accomplish that mighty work.

So prophesy, people of Redeemer! Let’s breathe in the Spirit of God on this Day of Pentecost then breathe out the Good News we know to all the world.

Prophesy that the promised gift of the Holy Spirit of God dwells in us now, uniting us one to another, and to God. Prophesy that the need to divide our matter from God’s Spirit, to divide worthy people from unworthy people, is sin – because we live eternally… in the unity of the Holy Spirit…

Prophesy, then watch as God works through our faithfulness.

Let’s make this real, though. I challenge each of us here today to honor God our Creator and identify one mighty deed of God in our lives one time when God acted powerfully, miraculously, transforming our lives; then to honor Jesus Christ our Savior, the author of the church on earth, let’s tell one other person in this church about that mighty deed and let’s do that sometime today; then (and here’s the challenging part) let’s honor the Holy Spirit who makes us all one by telling one person outside the church about that mighty deed of God in our lives and let’s do that sometime this week.

Be the prophet. Proclaim the good news you know that it may reach to the ends of the earth, through Jesus Christ our Lord in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saturday, May 23, 2015


A reflection on the Ascension (05/15/15)

I’ve been spending a lot of time this week pondering these words of Jesus in the gospel of Luke from the feast of the Ascension: "Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. ”

In court, a witness is the person who tells the story of a particular event as they understand it. Witnesses today vow to tell “the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” and submit to being questioned about it.

This is our task as believers. To tell our story of salvation, speaking the whole truth of it, not just the part the world is willing to hear. As witnesses, we must allow ourselves to be examined by sometimes friendly, sometimes hostile questioners.

Jesus tells us that we are witnesses of repentance – and we aren’t talking here about saying 10 Hail Mary’s as an antidote for telling a lie, or being remorseful over doing bad things (though that is the proper response). Repentance is about change. To repent is to change how we think, and therefore, how we act.

The early church had to repent of its expectation that the Messiah would be a king like David and accept the truth of the suffering servant who died on the cross and rose again. Once they repented, they could proclaim the truth of salvation in Jesus the Christ. As witnesses today, we must examine what expectations, beliefs, and habits get in our way and repent of them.

We are also witnesses of forgiveness of sin. Sin is whatever separates us from God, whatever interferes with our right relationships with God and one another. The truth of our story is that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus set us free from the power of sin to interfere and separate us. We have been reconciled to God in Jesus who sends us to reconcile in his name.

Telling the whole truth of our salvation story means living lives of repentance (change) and forgiveness (reconciliation). It also means speaking the words that bring change and reconciliation from ideas to reality. I am grateful to be among a people who work so hard witnessing the truth of our salvation story.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Spiritual friendship

One of the joys of prayer is that our spiritual friends among the communion of saints are always there praying with us, ready to share their gifts with us to aid us on our earthly journey. One of those who came to me this week is Aelred, the 12th century abbot of the Cistercian monastery in Rieveaulx in Yorkshire. I visited this monastery in 2001 while I was studying in England (this is a pic I took during my visit). It was a holy experience being there, walking the grounds, imagining what it was like in its hey-day.

Aelred, a contemplative, wrote two important books on spirituality, but it was his writings on spiritual friendship that came to my thoughts as I prayed this week. This was the gift Aelred brought to me/us.

Inspired by the gospel of John and the friendship Jesus had with the beloved disciple, Aelred taught that spiritual friendship is a particular kind of love, a discipline with responsibilities. He said that spiritual friendship is a journey of grace that leads us both to God and to the fullness of our humanity: “he that abides in friendship, abides in God, and God in him.” (Aelred, Spiritual Friendship, 69-70)

In their book, “Christian Spirituality,” Cunningham and Egan expand on Aelred’s teaching saying, “Friendship requires vulnerability, a willingness to risk love… Friendships require mutuality, leisure for each other, attention to the needs of the other, loyalty, and most of all, a love that is other-centered.” Friendship, they say, “is a movement toward community” and “does not grow without pain or disappointment.”

The love we see being reborn in us at Redeemer is exactly this kind of love: spiritual friendship. We have known the pain and disappointment that leads to forgiveness and reconciliation – which is, of course, a journey into God - and we are practicing once again the mutuality, loyalty, and other-centered love that is required to build the community of love that honors and serves Jesus Christ, our Savior. This Sunday we also have the gift of leisure with one another at our Pentecost picnic. I hope everyone will come and spend time relaxing, eating, playing, and just being with friends.

“Friendship will be full of riches for those who cherish it when it is completely centered upon God; for those whom friendship joins together, it immerses in the contemplation of God” (Aelred, Spiritual Friendship, 54).

Post-sabbatical update

During my sabbatical I was offline completely, which felt odd at first, then wonderful. It's been over a month since my sabbatical
ended and only now am I starting to fully re-engaged online again. Here are a few updates on how things will work post-sabbatical:

1) I am now writing a weekly (short) article for our parish newsletter and I will post those here. I have several to catch up so I'll do that now, then post weekly.
2) I will no longer post other people's sermons to my blog. Those will be posted on Church of the Redeemer's facebook and Twitter pages.

I never really used this as MY blog, but more as a way to post sermons, articles, etc. I plan for that to change now and will begin honest-to-goodness blogging more regularly.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Easter 7B, 2015: Dancing with Jesus' prayer

Lectionary:Acts 1:15-17, 21-26; Psalm 1; 1 John 5:9-13; John 17:6-19
Preacher: The Rev Dr. Valori Mulvey Sherer, Rector

En el nombre del Dios: Padre, Hijo y Espiritu Santo. Amen.

At my wedding, I danced a waltz with my Dad instead of using the traditional “Daddy’s Little Girl” or “Sunrise, Sunset” for the
father-bride dance. We’d been dancing the waltz together ever since I was tall enough to be his partner.

“Lean back on my arm,” my Dad would say. “Don’t count, don’t think. Just relax, and let me lead you.” I knew I was safe in my father’s arms, even though leaning back in order to follow him put me a little off-balance.

Trusting him, we entered the rhythm of the waltz 1,2 3… 1,2,3.. and we’d twirl in unison around the floor. It was the closest I ever felt with my father, which is why I chose to dance the waltz with him at my wedding.

Jesus’ farewell prayer in John’s gospel is best approached like a dance. Leaning back in our Father’s arms, not thinking, just relaxing, we enter the rhythm of the words and God leads us to become one with them, and one with God through them.

A little context will help as we dance with this prayer together… Jesus often went off by himself to pray, but in this case, he prayed with his followers so they could hear his words and be comforted by them.

The farewell prayer follows Jesus’ farewell meal – the one with the foot washing – and his farewell discourse where Jesus tells his followers of his coming death, and their betrayal of him. As all of this unfolds, Jesus tells them, “Believe… Believe in God, believe also in me.”

Then Jesus teaches them how we (the church) have been reconciled to God, that is, made one with God, through himself – and for a purpose. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower.” You are the branches. Abide in me. And remember… “…I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit.” (15:16)

The world will hate you as it hated me, Jesus says, but be at peace, even in those terrible experiences. You won’t be alone. I abide in you. Abide in me.

Then, Jesus prays this farewell prayer for them. He begins speaking of himself in the 3rd person: “Father the hour has come: glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you… This must have sounded a bit strange to his listeners, but remember, this is a dance.

Then Jesus says an amazing thing. Speaking in the 1st person he says, “I have glorified you on earth… now glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.” In this prayer, claims his eternal co-existence with God, his identity as the 2nd person in the Trinity of God.

This man praying isn’t just their beloved rabbi anymore. These followers are in the presence of the Incarnate God in conversation with the Godhead.

This is where our gospel reading picks up the prayer. Jesus states his purpose as the Incarnate One: “I have made your name known…” The name of God in Hebrew culture, referred to the true nature and character of God.

Jesus is the fullest revelation of God. In his Incarnation, the world could see God’s true nature living, loving, healing, and responding in the world. When we say we are made in the image and likeness of God this is what we mean, that we too can reflect the true nature and character of God – if we are faithful… if we believe.

Jesus goes on… I have given them all you gave me to give and they have received it and (finally) they are able to believe. Notice, he doesn’t say understand. They don’t understand – and some don’t even know they believe until later, like Mary Magdalene when Jesus appeared to her at the tomb, or Peter when he saw the empty tomb, or Thomas when Jesus let him touch the crucifixion wounds.

That we can believe is a gift from God. The maturity of our belief depends on our willingness to remain open to the truth.

Then Jesus acknowledges the reality that he is not long for this world. As he prepares to go, he says the words his followers need to hear: “Protect them in your name (that is, according to your true nature and character) that you have given me so that they may be one, as we are one... so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves.”

The joy that Jesus is talking about isn’t happiness or freedom from problems. Problems and trials are a given. This joy refers to our belief in him which opens us to experience true unity with God wh0 motivates us from within and guides our response in every experience we have in the world.

Jesus makes clear to his listeners that he isn’t asking God to take his followers out of the world but rather to be one with them in the world protecting them from the evil they will confront.

Two things about this (they’re really important):
1) When we hear the word “evil” we think: bad, immoral, malevolent, intending to do harm. But in Jesus’ day, and in the Greek which the evangelist used to write this gospel, it simply meant ‘that which causes sorrow or pain.’
2) It’s also important to note that in the original Greek, Jesus prays, “I ask you to protect them from the evil.” It does not say “the evil one.” This isn’t about protection from an evil being, but from anything that causes his followers sorrow or pain.

Then Jesus prays that his followers be sanctified in the truth because he is sending them into the world just as he was sent by God – to reveal the true nature and character of God by their lives, their words, their actions, and their prayers.

To be sanctified, as you know, is to be set apart as holy, as belonging to God. Jesus is asking that God maintain his followers in a state of consciousness - a state of being – that corresponds to the true nature of God in whose name they are being sent to serve.

Then, like Jesus, the believers will respond differently – not as the world would do, but as God would do. The story of the woman caught in adultery comes to mind; and the demoniac; and the trial and crucifixion.

Jesus’ responses in each of those situations (and so many more) reflected the true nature and character of God. Ours must too – and will - if we believe – for then we are living in the eternal presence of God in Christ. We in God and God in us… in unity, in complete oneness.

As theologian and liturgist, Lee Mitchell says, it is necessary for all Christians to participate in the liturgy… for in the liturgy we have the means of uniting with God. And union with God, not deeper understanding, is the only thing essential for new life in Christ.” (“Praying Shapes Believing” by Leonel L. Mitchell, p. 303)

I close with a portion of the conclusion of Jesus’ prayer (which, sadly, was not included in today’s lectionary reading): Jesus said, “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one… (that’s us, btw – Jesus prayed for us!) The glory that you have given me, I have given them, so that they may be one as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one…”

May we become completely one, as Jesus prayed we would. Amen.