Monday, May 17, 2010

Jesus Prays for Us

Just before Jesus went to the garden to pray, before he was kissed by Judas and arrested by the High Priest’s soldiers, Jesus prayed for his disciples. He knew that the time of his arrest, the time of his torment and suffering was very close. If he was going to pray for them this was the time for it.

You know I’ve wondered if the disciples were like us. I mean, when someone begins to pray and I know they’re going to go on for a while, my body just kind of goes into a meditative trance. Some people would say I’m sleeping but I think it’s a form of meditation. Anyway, when Jesus prayed for his disciples were they all listening to his words or were they in a meditative trance, like I’ve been known to go into? Have you ever wondered about that? I have, especially when I know that some of my own prayers get kind of long during worship and I’m sure some in the congregation have gone into their own meditative trance.

I’ve just been wondering were they really listening to what Jesus prayed or was John the only one who got it all down. Do we need to remember every word that someone prays when we’re present or is it okay for us to just be there quietly with them, even if we are in a trance? What do you think?

Jesus made some very important statements. Some of it was just letting God know he was aware of all that God had done for him and his disciples. God gave the disciples to Jesus. We’ve always thought Jesus chose them as he walked along the beach and through town but today we learn that God had chosen them a long time ago and gave them to Jesus to be his core group to carry on God’s work after Jesus ascended into heaven.

He wasn’t just praying for the disciples, he was praying for everyone who would believe in him through the Word. He was praying that they would all be one, so that the world would know for sure that God had sent him to save the world.

It sounds to me as if Jesus was praying for the Church to be one, God’s love in his children and Jesus in his children. Has his prayer been answered yet? Are we one church? Are we filled with God’s love and Jesus?

Jesus’ prayer was for all of us to be completely one. I don’t think we’re there yet. I’m really not sure if we’ll ever get there in my lifetime. But I trust that God will one day make us one with him and each other.

So, if we’re not there yet and since we are sometimes referred to as “the hands and feet of Jesus” shouldn’t we be working towards being united with all the other churches? What is it that we should be doing? Is there anything that we can do that would make a difference, that would bring us closer together?

I think the early church struggled with this very same problem. Peter and the disciples were doing their thing in Jerusalem and Paul and his cohorts were doing their thing in the part of the world outside the bounds of Jerusalem.

Peter, James, and John were preaching and teaching to other Jews, and a few Gentiles, while Paul and friends were preaching primarily to Gentiles and a few Jews. I think each group probably alienated those on the fringes. Even the disciples didn’t agree with how Paul was doing things and Paul thought Peter and the disciples were making a few mistakes too.

We have the same things going on today. There are Lutherans, Pentecostals, Baptists, United Methodist, Brethren, Friends, Roman Catholics, Jehovah Witness, and Latter Day Saints. There are so many it’s difficult to get a count. And there seems to be one or two theological differences that keep us from all getting together as one church.

But that didn’t keep Jesus from praying for us to be one in unity. It didn’t keep Paul and Silas from singing their hymns in the jail. It didn’t keep the psalmist from writing his psalms praising this great God we come here to worship today. And it shouldn’t keep us from working toward reconciliation with our sisters and brothers of other faiths and denominations.

I believe that Jesus is still praying for us. I believe he’s praying for us right now. I believe he’s praying for us right now as we worship inside this church, First Presbyterian, in Walnut, Iowa. I believe he’s praying for us to be one with our adopted brothers and sisters who are worshipping at Calvary and Peace and Our Savior and Monroe and St. Patrick’s. That’s what I believe. What do you believe?

Do you believe that we can all be one? Can we be one diversified church? I believe that is Jesus’ prayer for us.

I believe it can happen if we will join Jesus in praying for unity within our denomination and with all denominations and faiths in the world. I believe it takes faith, it takes time in prayer, and it depends on God’s grace. Actually, when I think about it, it’s all about God’s grace.

We pray and petition God and God in his grace will bring it all about. As John said in Revelation, “Come, Lord Jesus! Amen.”

Thanks be to God for his amazing grace. Amen.

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