Sermon – 05-16-21 – Easter VII – Cycle B
Scriptures: Acts 1:15-17, 21-26; Psalm 1; 1 John 5:9-13; John 17:6-19
Sermon Title: “Being One”
Baylor’s baptism today brings him closer with God than before the baptism. It is one of the mysteries of our faith. Baptism and Holy Communion are our two sacraments. We become one with God through these two experiences.
You may have caught the word “sanctify” in the gospel lesson. Jesus is praying to God, “And for their sakes, I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.” Sanctify means to be made holy. Truth means what is real; what is actual!
Baptism is holy. It brings Baylor and ourselves into the circle of God’s holiness. Our communion with bread and wine is holy. It brings us into the holy circle of God. There is mystery here but the water is real and the bread and wine or juice is real. We can feel it, see it, smell it, and taste it. These natural substances become part of our bodies. The water cleanses us, the bread and juice nourish us.
You may be thinking that the little bit of water and the little bit of bread and wine cannot really sustain us or cleanse us in any noticeable way. So let us think of them as symbols of cleansing and symbols of nourishment. Let us think beyond vitamins and minerals and protein and a complete bath inside and out. We are becoming one with God – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – with these symbols.
Let us take ourselves to the Last Supper with Jesus and the twelve disciples. First there is the foot washing – the servant act of hospitality done by the host, no less. Before and after the actual meal there is this sanctifying of ordinary bread and the ordinary wine. But then comes a long prayer. Jesus prays to the Father for these twelve men who have trudged with Jesus for three years. They are apprentices about to be shipped into the world to save the world! How about that! Jesus asks the Father to protect these men.
But Jesus asks for so much more. When he says “that they may be one just as you and I are one,” he not only wants us to be one with each other. Instead he is really saying that the “oneness” needs to include the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Sometimes we become quite discouraged because the Church of Jesus Christ on earth seems to be so broken and separated. How could we ever become one while we have such a variety of beliefs and practices?
Well, see if we can picture a map full of churches. Some huge parking lots are full to the gills. Some of us don’t have parking lots to fill. Loud, repetitive, praise music with heavy beat is heard from one church. Hymns full of sacred poetry that tell a story and are sung to organ music are lifted from another church. How can we possibly be one?
Let’s try a different slant. Our oneness can happen not in a horizontal fashion but in a vertical way. I read from the Contemporary English Version, John 17:20 and 21 “I an not praying just for these followers. I am also praying for everyone else who will have faith because of what my followers will say about me. I want all of them to be one with each other, just as I am one with you and you are one with me. I also want them to be one with us. Then the people of this world will believe that you sent me.”
Our oneness with all kinds of worship styles and practices comes through our belief in Jesus Christ as our Savior whether we are focused on getting to heaven or focused on working for fairness for each person living on earth, we are doing it in the name of Jesus. Jesus and the Father are one with the Holy Spirit.
My prayer is that we invite the Holy Spirit to work in us individually and collectively from whatever customs and practices we follow to do the work that Jesus is inviting us to do. It is all of these varying styles of worship inviting the world to find its way into the way of Jesus. That is our oneness with each other and with God. Amen