“…so that they may be one as we are one.” (John 17:11) Often this passage is used to encourage the Church to be unified, even in our diversity. But we’re not talking about a benign tolerance here. Notice the second half of the sentence: “…so that they may be one, as we are one.” Jesus asks that God supports believers in such a way that we are as interconnected as are Jesus and God. That’s a long way past just putting up with Passing the Peace, or quietly missing it. It’s past even being OK with babies wiggling and crying out in worship, or the preacher referring to God as ‘She’. Jesus is asking that God helps us be so interconnected, intertwined, interdependent that we bring life to each other, even when some of us are dying. That we bring love to each other, even when some of us are held in the grips of hatred or cynicism. That hopes rubs off of some of us onto the ones who are held in the grips of despair. YIKES!
But wait, it gets even harder. Jesus is asking that God helps us become as vulnerable as Jesus was, as open to calling out in terror and sorrow as Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane. I know you are all stars when it comes to offering help, to giving of yourselves to the other. Where we all have trouble is in receiving help. In being vulnerable, transparent, in leaning into each other for support, and being the one who needs the help and the hope.
This Sunday I want to consider how this relationship between God and Jesus and all of us is a bit like a dance. It’s not a once and once only declaration of faith, and covenant to be together; it’s an ongoing dance, a dynamic of leaning in and leaning out, of opening up and shutting down, of trusting and withholding.
But wait, there’s more. I’ve only quoted part of the sentence, the whole thing reads: “Holy Father (see how I’m being open there), Holy Father, protect them (us) by the power of your name – the name you gave me – so that they may be one as we are one.” By the power of your name – the name you gave me. Names have power, and this Sunday after worship you are invited to begin to think about a name for our new congregation. Come after worship, pick up your coffee or tea and join in a conversation about the power of name. Jesus’ name was Emmanuel – God-with-us. There’s a name with power. There’s a name that tells you just what he’s about. What might our name be – that the world will know who we are? And how are we going to choose it while maintaining the same relationship that God and Jesus had? Welcome to the journey of faith – such a great adventure!