JOHN 17:6-19

Seventh Sunday of Easter - Lectionary Year B

Gil Guerrero

Scripture: Gospel of John 17:6-19

6 ‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. 1010All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. 12While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. 14I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. 16They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 17Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

Focusing Quote:

1     Happy are those
who do not follow the advice of the wicked, 
or take the path that sinners tread, 
or sit in the seat of scoffers; 
2      but their delight is in the law of the Lord, 
and on his law they meditate day and night.  Psalm 1:1-2

I have a confession.

I confess to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault: I’m one of those wiseacres who used to cut up in your class in high school, college, RE, wherever. I was quick with a snide comment or a pun, or what I thought were witty observations on the activities.

Okay, I’ll also admit, that I’m a recovering wiseacre. I like to believe that I’ve gained a little wisdom and sensitivity in my years, especially since Jesus and I started hanging out again, and am better about using humor gently and as a tension relieving device.

It’s easy to lie in wait, looking for that moment to pounce on others. I sometimes see this in my congregation, or in my visits to congregations around the country.  I sometimes facilitate anti-oppression workshops at our congregations (OY, the stories I could tell… another day…) and I once was accosted in a men’s room by a fine fellow who couldn’t control his disdain even long enough for me to complete my urinal transaction: “I heard you say you’re a UU Christian: what’s THAT about?”

I’ve seen folks like this elsewhere, including my own congregation, people who I sometimes call “bridge trolls.” You remember the tale of the 3 Billy Goats Gruff? Those billy goats wanted to pass over the bridge, but there was a troll who was waiting under the bridge who would shout “who’s that walking over my bridge?” and generally terrorized folks walking across “his” bridge.

This is an attractive trait that I sometimes come across in our congregations. It’s a lot more comfortable to lie in wait, looking for someone to say the wrong thing theologically, (or for some poor schmuck to accidentally use one of those trigger words that make some crazy like “God” or “Spiritual.”) It’s a lot tougher to be called to testify to what you believe or explain the power of the “ultimate concern” in your life. We’re better scoffers than creators; it’s a lot easier, no?

Have you noticed this? Quick: tell me what Unitarian Universalism is to you! And don’t tell me what it’s not! Tell me what you believe and what moves you, but don’t back into it with what you DON’T believe. 

We see this in Congress a lot, don’t we? “I don’t know what I’m for but I know I’m AGAINST what THAT guy said…”

In the Gospel According to John, this week, the Evangelist has Jesus summing up His ministry in this section which is part of His farewell prayer. I’m really moved by Jesus’ speaking up for his band of “nobodies” to his Father.  “I’ve watched out for them. I’m coming home: please watch out for them as they go and spread what we gave them…” I love verse 17: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” Who wouldn’t want to be purified in the truth?! The challenge, I suppose, is maintaining our humility and acknowledging that we can only grasp our little sliver of the truth. Where this too often breaks down is in “knowing” that our little sliver is the “whole” truth something we have seen too often from our fundamentalist brothers, both Christian AND Secular.

As I’ve been on my path for the last several years, as I have shared before, I’ve reestablished a much stronger and healthier relationship with my Christianity. My path from being a “Big C” Catholic to being a “little c” catholic, has given much opportunity to reflect on what I believe and how I want to be in the world. I said before I’m a recovering wiseacre, and I have been trying to atone for my sinful years as a scoffer. Part of my (joyful and rewarding) penance has been teaching adult RE, and hopefully helping a few souls wrap their minds (and souls) around their ongoing Unitarian Universalist experience. 

(But if you have some spare prayer cycles, I’d appreciate you telling the “Big Guy” that I’m behaving a lot better.)

Blessings of peace be with you always, and have a good week.

Loving Ama and Abba, source of life and all things seen and unseen: hold us tighter in your warm embrace. Help us to know your love and spread it throughout your creation. Free our hearts and minds from fears that close us to giving and receiving true love, free us from fears that make us scoff at other’s truths. Sanctify us in your truth, that all may be made brothers. In Jesus’ Name we pray this day. Amen