In God we are one

May 24, 2020 Easter 7

John 17:1-11

As I have pondered this gospel lesson for the past week, the one concept that keeps floating to the top is around unity. This is a prayer that we are hearing from Jesus in the 17th chapter of John and the first verses are a prayer for himself. His prayer then focuses on his disciples throughout all of time, including us. Reading from the Message translation,

“For I’m no longer going to be visible in the world;
They’ll continue in the world
While I return to you.
Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life
That you conferred as a gift through me,
So they can be one heart and mind
As we are one heart and mind.”

One of my favorite Disney movies is the Lion King. In one scene, Rafiki tells the adult Simba, who is grieving the death of his father, Mufasa, that he knows where his father is. He takes Simba to a pool of water and tells him to look down. Simba complains, “That’s not my father, that’s just my reflection.” “No, look harder,” Rafiki says. As he looks, Simba begins to recognize his father in his own reflection. “You see?” Rafiki hums, “He lives in you.” 

What a powerful reminder for us that we, ourselves, are embodied with the Holy. We have been created in the image of God and in this being we are empowered to live out our faithful calling in this world. A world in which Jesus says he is no longer going to be physically present. At least not how the disciples had experienced him.

Yet, for those of us still living in this world, we are commissioned to share the Good News. In sharing this Good News, we build relationships and meet our sisters and brothers where they are. Unfortunately, sometimes we get in our own way when we encounter our sisters and brothers. We think about what is good for our own being. We turn our concerns inward and do not reflect on what is good for our neighbors and greater community. We get so wrapped up in the desire of what we want that we forget that our sisters and brothers have desires and needs too.

In God, we learn what it means to be in relationship. If we foster a deep abiding relationship with the creator, it begins to nurture our relationship with our fellow human beings. This is the desire that God has for all of creation. To be in relationship and to love and abide with one another. To be of “one heart and mind” with God draws us into being with others.

It is my prayer that this is what we all long for. To be of “one heart and mind.” While we may have differing opinions, it is my opinion that we all want what is best for humanity and creation, though we may approach it from different angles. Perhaps, I am being a little naïve in this thinking, yet it is my longing rooted in Christ to be one with all of creation; differences and all.

To live into that longed for unity requires being in relation with one another and to be in relationship with our sisters and brothers means acknowledging their worth as being created in the image of God. As the church in this community, we have the power to share this good news and build relationships with many people.

The lesson from the Lion King that I mentioned earlier speaks wholeheartedly to Jesus’ prayer for his followers in our gospel lesson this week. It also aligns remarkably well with Jesus’ message in John 17, and the message reiterated in 1 John 4, “we come from God and belong to God. Anyone who knows God understands us and listens.” It can be easy at times when we are quarantined to forget who we are and whose we are. You are not alone if you are feeling lost at this time, unsure of what you are supposed to do. Like Simba, we too have a powerful connection as we look into the depths of the water and are reminded that we are created in the image of God and baptized and marked with cross of Christ forever. In this acknowledgment, I pray that you remember God lives in you. Remember that it is in living out God’s love for the world that we have the oneness with God that echoes throughout Jesus’ final prayer.[i] That oneness with God is then reverberated to our sisters and brothers around the world as we begin to share the love.

[i] Jodrey, Linsey S.,

By Alex Steward

I am a husband, father, and pastor within the ELCA. I did not grow up in the church and thus come at this pastoring thing with an unique perspective.

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