Sunday, June 26, 2011

Romans 6:12-23 - Greater things

Romans 6:12-23
A little more than a year before I was born my mother woke up to a song on the radio, which asked the question, “Is this all there is to life?” It was ultimately this song which cause my mother to be intrigued by a sign she saw in a church yard and decide to attend a revival service at a small Kentucky Nazarene Church, where she discovered what more there was to life. As I was working on my sermon this week, my mother’s story kept coming to mind so I tried to find the song, which my mother believed to have been sung by Marianne Faithful, but with the very little information my mother’s memory provides, the song seems to be un-google-able. This is so not because it is such an obscure song that the Internet has not yet managed to catch that particular fish. No, the spider who spins the web has captured so many songs with this theme, which I gave up looking to find the one particular song, to which mother was referring.

Everyone seems to ask this question in one form or another. The author, the poet and the songwriter all ask this singular question on our behalf. There has got to be more than this? It is our souls’ cry. The songs I read this week in my search all spoke of the same thing, looking around at the world and finding it lacking, finding our movement through this world meaningless, no matter how much you gain, no matter how long your search, not matter what you do to infuse your life with something more than the mindless monotony which all too often fills the moments of our lives, our lives always seem to come up short and be less than what we know deep in side they could be. Song after song speaks of being fed up with always looking for the next thing that will make us feel fulfilled, always searching and never finding, always reaching but always coming up empty handed. As we sit at our desk doing the same thing we did yesterday, as we serve another meal to our children, as we run another errand, as we do the same thing we did yesterday, last week, last year, yet one more time, we often find ourselves looking down at the work of our hands and wondering if any of it has any meaning. We wonder if we are going anywhere, if our lives matter, if what we are doing will have any lasting impact. We long for meaning, we long for notoriety, for our moment of fame, but the thing is that those who have it are also searching for something more, something better, something else. We long for what they have but their testimony is that once they have what they have, they find that it is not what they were looking for; they find that they are still searching, still longing for more.

We all feel that there has to be more to life than the small little lives we live. So we long for people to know us, to name us and know our name, to have done something that will be remembered by people whom we don’t know and will probably never meet, but most of us know we won’t be remembered by anyone other than those closer to us and the memory of our lives will live on for not much beyond the lives of our grandchildren. Most of us know that we won’t do anything that will give our name, our lives, the things we did here on earth staying power, we won’t be written in the history books, find the cure to cancer, end world hunger, invent the next thing that will still be used a century from now. Our last names will not be household words like Edison, Ford, Franklin, Rockefeller or Kennedy and even if it were we would still be searching for something and find that our lives are lacking. Every Monday morning, when the alarm goes off and we see yet another week, doing the same old things stretching out before us, something in the core of our beings screams, “This can not be all there is!!” Yet we find our selves move ourselves moving through yet another day, in yet another week, in yet another year.
The thing is that not only is there more to life than this, the fact of the matter is that we were created for more than just this. Paul reminds us that we wake up every Monday, slaves, with a week of slavery stretching out before us, but we are not slaves because we were created to be slaves. We are not slaves because we are designed to be slaves, we are slaves because, we wake up every morning and we choose to be slaves.

I was once told a story about a man who kept birds in his garden in a beautiful large cage. The birds were fed every morning and every evening. They were protected from the rain and from the weather. They lacked for nothing. The man would often walk in his garden and sit down next to the birdcage and talk kindly to the birds and give them special little treats from his hands. One day the man came and sat by the birds and began to wonder to himself. Every morning I come, I open the cage and feed the birds, every evening I do the same, and often times during the day when I am here in the garden for one reason or anther I open the cage and although I am careful and try to not allow the birds any opportunity to escape, they never even try. He looked in at his birds they were pretty and well contented and on a whim he reached out his hands and open wide the cage and sat back down and watched the birds. Although they seemed to notice that the cage door was open and one or two even came to the gate’s edge, or poke their head out, to alighted just outside the cage, on the cage door itself even, but none of them made an attempt to fly away, not one of them given the opportunity would choose to the leave the safety and security of the cage. The birds choose to continue to be caged.

Paul tells us that we are slaves to whom we choose to obey. We can choose to obey one master or another but we are always choosing to obey something or somebody. If we choose to continue to obey sin then we are slaves to sin. If we choose to obey righteousness then we become slaves to God.

Choosing to live a life in slavery to sin, is choosing to live the life you have been living; choosing to live a life in slavery to sin means continuing to live a discontented life, a life that always seems to be lacking, that always seems to end at the end of yourself. Choosing to live a life in obedience to sin is a choosing to live a life limited by your own wants and desires. It is as small as you are, it begins and end with you, who you are, what makes you happy, what makes you feel fulfilled, and living that kind of life, no matter how rich, or famous the things you do and who you are that makes you you, you will continually find that your life feels as if it comes up short, falls flat, is not what you wanted it to be. It will always be less than, because it will always begin and end with you.

We are birds, we have been fed and nurtured and cared for, but we are slaves to the lives we know, to the lives we have been living, even as the cage door stands open we continue to remain where we are captured, enslaved because, although we long to be free, we are slaves to the food, the water, the apparent safety and security we have here in the cage. But the door has been opened and we can fly free. We can choose to no longer be slaves to the man who sits by the cage but if we fly free we would be slaves to forces of nature, slaves to finding our own food, slaves to a new way of life, more vibrant, more like the life that we, as birds were created to live, but different and difficult all the same. But in choosing this new slavery our lives would be so much bigger and grander than they could ever be living here in the cave.

Choosing God is choosing freedom; choosing God is choosing to live a life bigger than the one you are now living; choosing God is choosing to obey something bigger than you, something bigger than you and I, and all of us combined, choosing God is allowing your life to be joined with that of the creator of the universe, so that you may live the life you were created to live, live the live you were meant to live, live a life that has purpose and meaning beyond yourself. Choosing righteousness is not just about being good (you may or may not remember from our previous journeys in the book of Romans that you can’t be good in and of yourself anyway), doing all the right things and living the right way, it is about joining your life with the life of God, giving up all that you want, all that you desire, and allowing your wants and desires to be shaped and formed by the creator of the universe, it is about joining your life’s purpose with the purpose of the creator. It is about becoming a part of all that God is doing now, has done in the past and will do in the future.

When we allow ourselves to give up our slavery to sin and instead choose to be slaves to the love of God, slaves to the purpose and work of God in this world, we are allowing ourselves to be fulfilled in ways we could never be fulfilled when we were serving ourselves, being slaves to our own sin, our own whims and desires. Slavery to righteousness allows us to be apart of the working of the universe, allows us to be apart of the giving, receiving, and spreading of love in this world. Slavery to righteousness is slavery to love, it is a slavery that begins by loving God with the very fabric of our beings, allowing God’s love to fill us and recreate us into creators of love and then living that love and giving that love to the world around us. Slavery to righteous is loving God and neighbor. It is being the love of God to all those whom we encounter each and every day. It is being kind and gentle in the face of harsh rudeness; it is speaking softly when all the world around us is yelling; it is stopping and allowing the other to go first; it is loving those who hate; being honest in the face of lies, it is being true when those around us would be false. It is choosing the right and the good, over and above the false and the bad. It is being the face of a loving God to a world who can not help but see an angry, unjust god in the reflective images seen all around that so easily pass for god.

It is not easy to be slaves to righteousness. It is not easy to live love in this world. It is not easy to leave the cage and fly free as a bird was meant to be. Saying, “live the life you were created to live,” sounds easy. It sounds like something we would want to do, but it is not easy, it is hard, it is difficult and it is fraught with its own hardships. But is it a freer life, it is a meaningful life and it is a life that fills in the deep, dark empty places in the center of your being.

We all long to find meaning. We all long to be more than we are. We all long for something greater, more powerful, more. .. from ourselves, from our lives. Why not find it by joining your life with that of the one who spoke and the stars began to shine, who breathed and we were given life? Why not live a life joining your heart with the heart of God? Why not live a life bigger than yourself, bigger than this world, bigger than all time? Fly away from the cage! Take the risk and learn to live a life of righteousness, a life of love. When you do, greater things will come.
The fact of the matter is as Christians when we feel small. When we feel useless, when we feel as if there is no meaning, no worth in our small existences, we can rest in the hope that Christ himself gave us when we told us that greater things are yet to come, greater things are still to be done. Who we are does not end with our lives, who we are does not end with the smallness of our lives. God is doing great things through the Church; God will continue to do great things though us. Life is greater than this. Life is bigger than us. There is no one like our God. There is no work like the work our God is doing, and will do.

When we choose to join our lives with the life and purpose of God; when we choose righteousness we are choosing to live and breathe the love of God into this world and God will do great things through us and in us. The love we live will not die. The love we live will reach out and touch people. The love we live will change and transform lives. Our lives are anything but small, they are not meaningless, they are conduits through which the love of God is pumped into this world. But they can only be that if we choose that love, choose that righteousness. God can not flow through us or in us unless we open ourselves up to God, turn from being slaves to ourselves and to our sin, and becomes slaves of love and righteousness and when we do we ARE the love of God in this world, we ARE the workings of God here in this place. God wants to be in us. God wants to work through us. God wants to reach out to the people whom we encounter in our day to day lives, but the only way God can do any of these things, is if we are living the love of God, choosing the righteousness of God and allowing that love and righteousness to be the guiding force in all that we do, all that we say and what moves us and motivates us as we walk the paths that we walk everyday.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Acts 2:1-21

Today is the day we celebrate the day of Pentecost. Pentecost was one of the seven Jewish feasts which God called for the people of Israel to celebrate as part of their covenant which they made with God at Sinai. The festival of Pentecost was celebrated 50 days after feast of Passover. It was a harvest festival also known as the feast of weeks. The early believers who gathered following Christ’s resurrection and subsequent ascension gathered together that day just as all the other Jews had gathered. They came together to celebrate the grain Harvest that occurred at the beginning of the Summer and to give thanks to God for providing for them and to give to God the first fruits of the grain harvest. So it was for this reason, which the disciples had gathered all together on this particular day.
Before Jesus had ascended into Heaven, he told the Disciples to return to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit. On the day that Pentecost was being celebrated all over the Jewish world. The Disciples were gathered together in the upper room. Disciples ready and waiting. They had done exactly what Jesus had asked them to do. And then on the Day of the Feast of Pentecost there was a mighty rushing wind and tongues of fire and the Spirit of God came upon them all allowing them to speak the truth of Jesus Christ and God’s purpose and love for humanity shown through Jesus’ life, teaching, death and resurrection and be heard in many languages.
This is not the first time God had used wind or fire as a way of speaking, or moving in this world. We first see the wind or breath; of God in the very first few verses of Genesis we find the wind of God moving over the surface the waters. The word used in the Old Testament for wind is the same word used for breath or Spirit. The Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the void and formless earth. The Spirit of God was there where God spoke through The Word and created all that was. The next time we find the wind, breath, Spirit of God in Genesis is in the creation of humanity. When God created the first human, God leaned down over the human and breathed life into that human. When God created us, God breathed God’s own Spirit into us giving us life, giving us breath. The wind of God is the Spirit of God moving and giving life to us all. Later in Ezekiel when God brings Ezekiel to the valley of the dry bones, it is the wind, the breath, the Spirit of God, which moves and brings the bones to life again. Where ever you see the wind of God, in the Old Testament, it is the Spirit of God moving and bringing life.
The Fire of God is also something which is seen throughout the Old Testament. In Genesis we see the power of God made manifest by the fiery destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. We also see the power of God made manifest to Moses in the burning bush. It was also via a pillar of fire that God lead the people of Israel through the long dark nights of their exodus journey. When the kings men came and challenged Elijah, Elijah called down the fire of God to destroy them. When Ezekiel challenged the prophets of Baal it was through that the power of God came down and proved to all that the Lord God was the one and only true and living God.
On the day of Pentecost the early believers were gathered together and the sound of a mighty rushing was heard and tongues of fire were seen alighting above the heads of each of the believers. The Spirit came upon the early believers, breathing life into and giving power to the early church. When the Holy Spirit came upon the Church the Spirit came with the power and the life giving presence of God. The life giving breath and the power of God was given to the early church, enabling the early church to go out from the place they had gathered, speak the truth of Jesus Christ and share the love of God with those who were gathered in the streets of Jerusalem.
That is what happened, you know, when the Spirit came upon the believers of the early Church, they went out from that place and preached the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ with all those in Jerusalem and a miracle occurred there in the streets. As if an indoor wind and floating flames of fire was not enough a miracle happened that day in the streets of Jerusalem was absolutely amazing.
The men and women who left that place that day and went into the streets of Jerusalem and preached and as each of them preached God did a miracle in and through them as each person who passed by that day, or gathered around to hear these men and women speak could hear the in his or her native language.
I have spoken brought up several Old Testament stories this morning; I am going to bring up one more. Early on there was just one language. But at one point humans decided to work together to try to build a tower, so they could reach up and touch God. They wanted to make themselves like God. They wanted to be gods. So God cause them all to speak different languages, so that they would not be able to communicate and they would have to give up work on this tower their tower of pride. And this is exactly what happened. God confused their languages; they were unable to communicate with one another and so they stopped work on the tower which came to be known as the tower of Babel.
What happened on Pentecost was a reversal of the confusion that happened at the tower of Babel. A unity that had not occurred before occurred and the message of the gospel was heard in all that languages of the people who were moving through the streets of Jerusalem that day. Because of the miracle that God worked in and among those early believers and 3000 people came to believe in Jesus Christ that day. The Church was born and because of all that, after some has passed, we are here today. Because of the miracle that occurred on the day of Pentecost nearly 2,000 years ago we are here in Cambridge, in a white building on Franklin Street.
We are here because of the events that happened on the day of Pentecost so long ago in more ways than it being the beginning of the church. But because of that first Pentecost experienced by those first Christians we know today that the presence and power of God is available to us. It means that as the Church God can do miracles in us, through us and among us. It means that we can continue to carry on the work that the Disciples began. We, the Church today, believers today are filled with the Spirit of God and are able to go in to all the earth sharing the love of God the truth of Christ’s teachings and making disciples in our Jerusalem, our Judea, our Samaria and to the ends of the Earth. In Cambridgeport, Cambridge, Boston, Massachusetts and the ends to the Earth
We too can have the breath of God fill us, make us new, help us live and grow, we too can have the power of God; we too can have the miracles of God done through us so that we are able to speak in ways that those outside of our walls can understand the truth of the Gospel and the love of God. We like those first disciples can flood out of this building filled with the Spirit of God and sharing the love of God with those whom we fin in the streets of our lives; in our neighborhood, at our work places, where we shop, with our neighbors, with our friends and our family.
But we need to begin as those early believers began, by waiting on God. The Spirit and the power of the spirit to love, to teach and to make disciples is not something that just came, but it came because they went back to Jerusalem and waited for God, waited for God to speak, waited for God to move. They waited on God. We have to wait on God, because Jesus told them to wait. But lets not fool ourselves they did not just sit around and do nothing during those days, they spent that time praying and calling on God. They listened for God to speak. Waiting on God does not mean sitting around waiting for God to do all the work. It means seeking him, his face, his will. It means praying, reading the scriptures, spending time doing this alone and together as a church. It means being ready for God to do what GOD will do.
When we are listening and seeking the face of God we are putting ourselves into a situation where we are allowing God to fill us with the presence and power of God. But we must begin by being open and ready for God to fill us; being open and ready for God to use us and allowing God to give you and me and each of us a vision of what God can do in us, in our church and in our world – through us.
Once we are filled with the Spirit of God we are filled with the power to go out and do the work of the Lord, to share God’s love, grace and forgiveness with all those whom meet. We are able to leave the upper room – this sanctuary, this church building and go flooding out from here, filled with power and the Spirit so that we are able to speak to our world in way s that make sense to them in words, in language and in actions that speak to them about the truths and the love of our God.
The face of the matter the work of the Church, to preach, teach and share the truth of Jesus Christ and God’s love for all of us is the work of the whole church. It not just the work of pastors, of learned individuals, of the leadership team, but it is the work of the entire church. All of us, each and every one of us are called to bring Jesus to this world. God’s desire is first and foremost for relationship with each of us, but also to fill the Church, to allow the Church to share the truth of God’s first desire with our world. The Spirit came that first Pentecost to enable God’s church to live, grow and to share the truth about God with their world and we continue to remember Pentecost today, so that we never forget that God continues to fill the Church with the Spirit so that we all may live, grow and share the truth of God with our world, so that Church can be the Church, so that the Church can live and grow.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Intentional Bi-Vocationality

So it has been a long time since I posted anything but my sermons (and I got really bad at that for a while). Since the last time I wrote like this my life has changed, but then again when doesn't it? Right now actually marks a time period of change in my life. In December we moved from Belmont, MA to Cambridge, MA, something like a 6 mile move, but a significant move for both us and our church. We live in a church owned parsonage, so the move marked a change in the particular parsonage the church owned, which was a monumental move on the part of our congregation here in Cambridge. Also this week is my youngest daughter's last week of pre-school, which will in turn mark the end us driving her to and from Belmont three days a week which has meant being in the car an hour and hanging out and working while sipping coffee as Starbucks during her 2 1/2 hours of school.

But more than all that, for a number of reasons this also marks a time in my life and the life of my church when we learning first hand what it means to be a bi-vocational leader. For the last three weeks I have begun a part time job at Pier 1 Imports.

At first I was not sure I liked the term of bi-vocational. I pondered what exactly the bi- was doing to the vocation. Did bi-vocational speak to the idea that my vocational was split in half, as in the word bifurcated? Did this new job mutilate, or tear my vocation into a smaller pieces? Was everything that I do and have worked for these past 10 years of ministry torn up like the little scraps of paper I find all over my daughter's room (tearing paper seems to be a relaxing pass time of hers)? Was it broken? Fragmented? Should I be mourning a loss?

Or did the bi, mean a multiplication of sorts, meaning two. Bi-weekly, means every two weeks. Was it an empowering word that infused my new job with meaning and purpose beyond simply selling people pretty things for their homes? Did the word bi-vocation speak to the fact that I am a minister where ever I am, whatever I am doing (no matter how inconvenient that might be)? Did it speak to a hidden spirituality that me being a minister infused into being a "Sales Associate?" Because I am a minister, a pastor, a shepherd of God's people, that means I am those things, even when I am talking to someone about the difference between the different styles of two teal vases and which one might be the right look for their home?

As I think about it I think it is a both/and situation. I am tearing my vocation in half, but once it is torn I now have two pieces. In my right hand I have my vocation which directly involves my congregation and the work I do for and on their behalf. But the part I have in my left hand, my Pier 1 work, although separate is still apart of my vocation, a part of God's call on my life to live and work in the service of God's people. The work I do at Pier 1 empowers and enables me to continue to minster here in Cambridge. In many ways it is also an extension of my ministry. There are now a certain number of people who are forced to be in proximity with a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a part of their job. When you think about it this is really pretty cool.

I get to live out in my own life what I call my people to do on a frequent basis, which is live Christ before our world. If we truly believe that Christ changes who we are, molds us into his image and transforms our lives. Then as we live we are ambassadors, living reflections, icons of Christ moving, breathing, speaking and living in this world. When people encounter us they encounter the Christ who lives in us, they encounter the God of the universe who is reaching out through us, to love them and let them know that they are loved beyond measure by the One who spoke them into existence and breathed life into them.

I get to practice what I preach in a real way. As a bi-vocational minister, I don't have to seek out interaction with people beyond my congregation. I don't have to go find people who may not know God and then figure out how to love them with the love of God, being in contact with people is a part of my job. Living the love of God is what I have to do in order to sell a lamp, a table or a candle. I get to be in constant contact with the very people God has called me to love. It is a privelege to interact with customers and co-workers, and it is a vocation.

Vocational living is not something to which I (and other ministers)am exclusively called, but intentional vocational living is something to which we all are called, that is if we call ourselves Christian. We are called to live lives that would exemplify Christ, no matter what we are doing. When we are sitting at the dinner table with our families, we are living the love of Christ. When we are driving down the road we are ambassadors. When we are riding on the T, when we are buying our groceries and when we are selling rugs to college students, or whatever we are doing right now, we are living the love of Christ, sharing the God of universe in word and in action in each an every encounter.

Doing just this is what makes our lives holy. When we live the love of God with every breath we breath, with every move we make, we infuse that activity with the holiness of God. When Christians are at work in the world, nothing is mundane, nothing is secular, whatever we encounter becomes God's. Everything we do becomes the actions of God. Everything we say becomes the words of God.

In a totally non-peeping-Tom kind of way the song that I was taught as a small child is true, "be careful little hands what you do. . . be careful little feet where you go . . . be careful little mouth what you say. . . for the Father up above is looking down with love . . ." The Father is not just looking down with love, but expressing love with those hands, those feet and that mouth. Christ is in us, living in us, moving through us, speaking in us, making our lives, all the things we do in the day, holy, so our movements, actions and words, need to be holy. We need to be intentional in our vocations (what ever they are), whether they are bi- or not, we are making this world Holy in our encounters, in our actions and with our words, so let our words, actions and encounters be Holy.

John 17:1-11 - An Ascension Sunday Sermon

John 17:1-11

Today is Ascension Sunday, it is the Sunday on which we mark the day when Jesus left his disciples here on earth and returned to be with the Father. It is called the Ascension, because quite literally, Jesus ascended, or rose into the air and disappeared from sight. Jesus gives a few last instructions and words of wisdom to his disciples and then is removed from their presence, to return to reside with the Father thus ending his time here on earth. This marks the end of Jesus’ own ministry here on earth and marks the beginning of that ministry being carried out by those who follow him in relationship with God. Luke records the events of the Ascension in the 24th chapter of the gospel he penned as well as in the first chapter of Acts.

You may have noticed, that although the latter of these two was read at the beginning of this service, neither are my sermon text today. My sermon text this morning comes instead from the gospel of John. It is not a text which follows Christ’s resurrection but is instead is part of a prayer Christ makes on behalf of his disciples as well as all those who would eventually come to believe, which is in turn a part of a section of last teaching which Christ makes to his disciples right before the crucifixion.

It is traditional on Ascension Sunday to ponder the last words of Jesus before he rose in all his glory and was no longer seen on this earth. Usually we think of the ascension as the moment when Christ rises in all his glory returns to go to be with the Father, but John, the ultimate display of the glory of God is seen in the crucifixion; the crucifixion being the ultimate display of God’s love for us. Christ’s death is the moment when all humanity sees once and for all time exactly how much God loves each and every one of us, and to what extents God is willing to go to restore relationship with us. For John, God’s glory is seen when God breaks into our world to show us love, to bring us grace, to draw us into relationship. God’s glory is God’s love seen in this world, ultimately through Jesus Christ and culminating in his crucifixion.

Christ’s purpose here on earth is to show us the glory of God, the richness of life with God, the fullness of what it means to be in relationship with God. The ultimate manifestation of the love of God reaching for us, drawing us into relationship with God is seen in Jesus’ willingness to lay down his life for all humanity, so that we might truly see the glory of the love of God.

Just as in the Acts passage, where we have the last words of Jesus, as recorded by Luke, just prior to the glory (as seen by Luke) being made manifest in Christ’s ascension, the words we have hear in John are the words of Christ (according to John) just before God’s glory is made manifest in the crucifixion. The words that Jesus speaks to God on our behalf here are some of the last words before he fulfills all that needs to be done for the Father’s glory to be truly seen here on earth. The last words Christ speaks before all humanity sees how far, wide and deep the love of God for each and every one of us truly extends.

So the question is, "what does Jesus say here then?" What are the words that he feels are so important as God’s glory is about to truly be seen through the sacrifice he will make on our behalf? Christ stops and prays for us. He lifts us up in prayer. Jesus is about to die for us, die so that we might truly see the love of God for us, and he stops to pray for us, to pray for his disciples and to pray for all those who will ever come to believe.

He begins by asking that God’s glory, the earthly manifestation of God’s love can come upon him so that he can in turn manifest God’s love, God’s glory before all. Jesus begins praying that he might give them, the twelve, the disciples, all those who come after, eternal life.

When you think of eternal life you may think of living for all eternity with God, in some other realm, called Heaven, where we will have everything that is good, we will join with the angels singing God’s praises and living lives forever worshipping our creator. Or you may think of a kingdom, with pearly gates, golden streets and a crystalline sea. You may think of a place made of clouds, with cherubs, who resemble chubby 18 month old babies, with golden harps and tiny little wings. You may think of a place where all your deepest wishes are fulfilled, all that brings you joy or happiness is with in reach and where you will never know the touch pain, hurt or sorrow again.

Jesus, as recorded John’s gospel, does not present ideas of eternal life that resemble any of these things. The idea of eternal or abundant life, presented by Jesus in the gospel of John, is a life lived as it was created to be lived. When reading John you quickly learn that we were created for abundant life and the goal of Christ’s life, death and resurrection was to bring eternal life to all those who believe. The abundant life, of which Jesus speaks so frequently, in the book of John, is life lived in relationship with God. Jesus says exactly that right here, “And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Eternal life is something found in relationship with God. Something we have as we know God, and we can know God through the one whom God sent, Jesus Christ. In knowing Christ, his life, his teachings, his death and resurrection, we come to know God.

The word translated eternal means, to its fullest, to completion, abundant, filled up. So eternal life is abundant life, full life, life which is lived in completion, wholeness, exactly the way it is suppose to be, or meant to be. And eternal life is not found merely in the life hereafter. It not something that can only be found “when we all get to Heaven.” It is something which is found in relationship with the God of the universe, right here, right now. Jesus sees eternal life as something we can have in this life. It is something to be lived while we are here on this earth.
Eternal life is a way of living life here on earth, full, rich and free. It is a relationship with the God of universe which changes everything; who we are, how we live, how we see and experience the world, but not only is it a life lived now, but it is a life lived now that has echoes, repercussions for all eternity. Eternal life lived now, enters us into relationship with God, not only here and now but for all eternity. It joins our lives with that of our God living life full now and experiencing that abundant, eternal fullness for all time. As Jesus’ life draws to its close, his prayer is that through the glory seen in his death and resurrection all humanity may come to know, and come into relationship with God.

Jesus then talks to the Father about how he has done all he has set out to do. He has passed on all the teachings he was given to teach. He has passed on the truth of who God is and God’s desire for us. He has done all he can do, he has taught all he came to teach, now as he is going to be leaving and he has but one last prayer for us all. He asks God to protect us, so that we may be one as he is one with the Father. Jesus’ last and final prayer is for us to be united.
Jesus’ purpose is to fulfill God’s greatest desire to be in loving relationship with us and for us to in turn live in loving relationship with one another. Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and final prayer is love. We are created to be loved by God, to love God in return and then in turn love one another, to live united with one another. To be united as a church, as body, as the people of God united as one, all those who love God, are loved by God and there fore united in love for one another.
We are to love one anther Jesus loved and was loved by the Father. God, the trinity functions and moves via love. God is love; the trinity is God in relationship; Father, Son and Spirit living in mutual relationship; loving, being loved and sharing love with another. And this is how we are to live, to live the love, the unity that is experience in the trinity.

This is part of what it means to live abundant life, when we choose to live in relationship with Jesus, with the Father, with God, we are choosing to also be in relationship with all those who are loved by and love God. We are choosing to be in relationship with each other, here, as well as with all Christians where ever they are, in this city, this State, this country, this world. We are to be united as a family as a body, as one with all those who claim Christ as their own, no matter where they are, no matter who they are.

This is a call to love those whom know as well as those whom we don’t know, this is a call to love those whom we like as well as whom we don’t like, and this is a call to love those with whom we agree as well as those with whom we disagree. We are united because it is Christ’s desire that we be united; we are united because we worship and love the same God but we are also united because we all have the same call. United in Christ, united in love, united together, and loving the world with the love of Christ so that all may know the love that we know, so that all may see what it means to have abundant/eternal life. We are united not only because we love God, not only because we all believe in Jesus Christ, but we are united because we all have the same goal, to proclaim the love of God where ever we go, to whomever we encounter.
This means we have to lay aside all that would divide us. This means that we have to ignore the things that drive us crazy about each other. Let’s face it is not always easy to love one anther. We all have habits, which grate on each other. There are things about that person across the room that you wish they would change, but Jesus wants us to be united anyway, to love anyway. There are others with whom we share this space whom we find hard to love because they don’t do things quite the way we would wish they would, they do things differently than we do. There are others who seem inconsiderate, or don’t seem to follow the same rules we do, we are to be united with them, and to love them as Jesus loves them to live in unity with them, just as the Father and the Son live in unity.

But it is more than just here that this problem arises. There are Christians outside of those who gather here with whom we disagree, Christians down the street who worship differently than us, Christians who hold differing beliefs, who express themselves in ways that we find uncomfortable or perhaps even find repugnant; there are Christians we don’t want to claim, but we are not here to pick and choose who we want to be united with. There are Christians who don’t vote the way we vote, who live differently than we live, there are Christians who make choices about what they eat or drink that we would not make, but we are all Christians none-the-less. Jesus does not pray that we be united with only those with whom we agree, or with only those who follow the same code of conduct, with only those who believe as we believe, or even only those who vote as we vote, Jesus’ desire is for all his followers, for all those who are in relationship with God to be united. Jesus desires that we be united with all those who are loved by the one who love us; who love the one we love, who worship the one we worship. It is as the old hymn goes, “My faith has found a resting place, not in device or creed . . . it is enough that Jesus died and that he died for me.” We are united by Christ; we are united in his life, his death, his resurrection by the love which can only be found in God. Let us accept that love, let us live in that love and most of all let us love one another with that love, being united by it in the name of Jesus Christ the one and only true living God who is in all things, and made all things.