May 29, 2022

Prayer of the Day

O God, form the minds of your faithful people into your one will. Make us love what you command and desire what you promise, that, amid all the changes of this world, our hearts may be fixed where true joy is found, your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.


Acts 16:16-34

16One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave-girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling. 17While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, “These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.” 18She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.
19But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities. 20When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, “These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews 21and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe.” 22The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods. 23After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. 24Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. 28But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. 34He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.

Psalm 97

1The Lord reigns; let the | earth rejoice;
  let the multitude of the | isles be glad.
2Clouds and darkness sur- | round the Lord,
  righteousness and justice are the foundations | of God’s throne.
3Fire goes be- | fore the Lord,
  burning up enemies on | every side.
4Lightnings light | up the world;
  the earth | sees and trembles.
5The mountains | melt like wax
  before the Lord of | all the earth.
6The heavens declare your righteous- | ness, O Lord,
  and all the peoples | see your glory. R
7Confounded be all who worship carved images and delight | in false gods!
  Bow down before the Lord, | all you gods.
8Zion hears and is glad, and the cities of Ju- | dah rejoice,
  because of your judg- | ments, O Lord.
9For you are the Lord, most high over | all the earth;
  you are exalted far a- | bove all gods.
10You who love the | Lord, hate evil!
  God guards the lives of the saints and rescues them from the hand | of the wicked.
11Light dawns | for the righteous,
  and joy for the hon- | est of heart.
12Rejoice in the | Lord, you righteous,
  and give thanks to God’s | holy name. 

Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21

12“See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work. 13I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

14Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates.
16“It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
17The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”
 And let everyone who hears say, “Come.”
 And let everyone who is thirsty come.
 Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.
20The one who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” 
  Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
21The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.

John 17:20-26

[Jesus prayed:] 20“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
25“Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. 26I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Sermon – Pastor Meggan Manlove

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ

This morning’s text is the final portion of a long prayer. The prayer is the final scene of Jesus’ farewell meal–the Lord’s supper –with his disciples.  He has prayed for himself and his work. Then he turned from his own glorification to prayers for the future life of his followers, his disciples.  

This is not like the prayer in the garden in Gethsemane. Here, as Jesus prays, the disciples are within earshot. Earlier in the evening Jesus gave the disciples plenty of information. He told them what was about to happen. He told them how he would provide for them in the future. Now Jesus quits offering information. He prays. 

At the center of the prayer is the relationship that God the Father and Son share. Jesus is working to draw everyone into that relationship. Jesus is close to the Father’s heart,” or as the King James Version puts it, “in the bosom of the Father.”

Jesus prays, “As you Father are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us….”  Jesus prays that his disciples may be drawn into the life of the Holy Trinity. The Father sends Jesus to humanity for this reason. God sends Jesus so that all humanity will exist between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

What we hear today is Jesus’ prayer for those who come to believe through the work of his disciples, which means this prayer includes us. Jesus prays for those who will become Christians through the life and faith of others in every age.

Jesus turns his attention to the world and expresses his desire that the world will come to share in the knowledge of God. This knowledge marks the life of the faith community. He says, “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.” This is his core prayer for the unity of the faith community. Jesus prays that the world will receive the community’s witness through its oneness. And this is the crux of the text–for the community to be “one” means that they, we, mirror and share in the oneness of Jesus and the Father.  

The purpose of this perfection of oneness is not only an experience of divine love for us in our communion with God and one another. The purpose is beyond us. This being perfected in oneness is so that the uncomprehending, sometimes dangerous world, as we witnessed so horrifically this week, may also trust and know God’s love in the sending of the Son.   

The oneness of the Father and Jesus is synonymous with love in John’s gospel. What the world is to see in our display of that oneness is the love of God miraculously made manifest.  Our love for God and one another becomes then an offering in and for the world to experience the love through which all creation has come into being.

To be in community does not imply that a person has become just one more copy in a series of interchangeable parts.  Community does not dissolve differences or personalities into one great muddle of marshmallow.  

Community calls first for the ability to listen to differences and second it is the capacity to enter into real reconciliation.  What does such reconciliation look like?  It is the correspondence of hearts where there is a forking of minds.  When we live in such a community we truly are witnesses of God’s glory.  

This all makes me think about Benedictine monastic communities, with their emphasis on hospitality. One sister from Holy Wisdom Monastery near Madison, Wisconsin explains her community by reflecting on one of the last segments in the Rule of Benedict. Chapter 66 is titled, “On the porter of the monastery.”  It sounds surprising simple.  

What does being a doorkeeper have to do with the spiritual life?  The Benedictine sister goes on to explain that the inclusion of this chapter is essential, for a real monastery is open to the world and the porter, not the abbot, not its invisible membership, is the monastic who keeps the door.  The porter is the monasteries public face.  And the public face of a good monastery is warm, welcoming, and open.  But the difference is that a Benedictine monastery , most of all, has at its heart the requirement to be open.

The chapter on the porter is its manifesto.  “Put an old monastic at the door,” the chapter instructs, “one whose mature age does not permit her to wander about…and so that visitors will always find someone there to answer them.”  The intention is clear.  The welcome is “Always.”  The openness is “At whatever hour of day or night.”  And the reception is a warm one: “As soon as anyone knocks or a poor person calls out, the porter will reply,” “Benedicte/Thanks be to God.”  

Thank God that someone has come to stretch our minds and souls.  Thank God that someone has come to shake us out of our complacency.  Thank God that someone has come to prod us beyond ourselves.  A Benedictine community does not exist for its own sake.  A Benedictine community is a community that makes community with the world

In a congregation like this one, we too can make community with the world. We already have diverse life experiences and perspectives represented among us. As we lament the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, it might seem that even the church is not united in what action such lament might move us to. There are many preachers this Sunday who will paint a picture of the path forward, a path to prevent ever having to watch such events unfold, events which break our hearts. This sermon is going to suggest something more challenging.

In the spirit of the oneness and love woven through Jesus’ prayer, I suggest that we each find someone in this congregation whose solution to mass shootings is different than our own. Spend an hour with that person and find the one or two things you do agree on, and I firmly believe you will find them. Then write to elected officials on the local, state, or national level and share your experience. Write, “My sister in Christ and I don’t agree on everything, but these last two weeks we said enough! On this we agree. Please act where you are. We are acting in Canyon County, Idaho.” Many elected officials believe we are much more divided on the solutions than I think we actually are.

Remember, we also exist for the world.  Jesus prays to God, “the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me.  I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”  This love for one another, this oneness, this community of God’s people is a witness to the world.  

Like branches of a vine, we live in something larger than ourselves, in which we are nurtured to bear fruit by the Spirit dwelling in us. But because we are more than vines, we also become more loving by choosing to follow Jesus’ model and teachings about what love is: tending, feeding, bearing witness, and breaking barriers for love—societal barriers and also barriers we set up for ourselves, including some that we may think make us rightly religious, but which do not make us loving.  

This love is the substance of Jesus’ glory. And it is what he wants us and the world to know. Oneness and love are linked throughout the passage with knowledge, and that is where it concludes. To know God is to have love in us and to have Jesus in us. This also takes us back to where the prayer began, glory and knowledge. To know God in 17:2-3 is eternal life, and now we find that eternal life will be an extension of the love of God stretching back before the foundation of the world, forward to us, and beyond us to the communion of the saints and to those who may be able to experience God’s love through us.

We are not witnesses on our own.  To listen in on Jesus’ prayer is to be reminded of his love and his forgiveness that we need so desperately in this broken world.  Jesus prays to God that we will be in God’s hands.  Held in God’s hands we receive a gift.  Next week we will celebrate Pentecost.  We will rejoice in the gift of the Holy Spirit, who witnesses through us; who helps us make community with the world.  And in our hearts, we can hold Jesus’ prayer, “And 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.”  Amen.

Prayers of Intercession

The prayers are prepared locally for each occasion. The following examples may be adapted or used as appropriate.

Set free from captivity to sin and death, we pray to the God of resurrection for the church, people in need, and all of creation.

A brief silence.

Holy God, make your people one as you and your Son are one. Extend the gifts we have been given by your Spirit to all people, especially those experiencing division or questioning your love. God, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Make worthy the work of scientists who look to the stars and planets, as well as scientists who look to atoms and molecules. Bring innovation and well-being to humanity through their discoveries. God, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Keep in our minds those who have died in war, both military and civilians (especially). May we honor them by seeking peaceful solutions to the conflicts that arise among nations and peoples. God, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Grant freedom to all who are overwhelmed by chronic illness, depression, or constant worry (especially). Open them to receive health and salvation in Christ Jesus through the Spirit’s gift of faith. God, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Stir imagination and understanding throughout the church in the work of poets, theologians, and hymnwriters (like Jiřī Tranovský, whom we commemorate today). Lead us into new visions and fresh expressions of your presence. God, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Here other intercessions may be offered.

Unite us with the saints who have died and been raised in Jesus. Train us to wait with eager longing for Christ to come again, even as we sense his presence with us now. God, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

In your mercy, O God, respond to these prayers, and renew us by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ, our Savior.


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