05 May 2008

So That They May Be One

7th Sunday of Easter
Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35; 1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11, John 17:1-11
by Tina Silvestro

In this time between the Ascension and Pentecost there seems to be a scriptural pause in the midst of Easter joy. What was that time like for the Apostles? Jesus - their teacher, their friend - was crucified, rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven. We know the story and what comes next. We say it like an ordinary matter. But, for the followers of Jesus, attached to this sequence of events there were many changing emotions. After the Ascension, Jesus was no longer visibly in their midst. Yet again they were lost, afraid, and uncertain. They were a community in conflict with the established order but now they had to face this alone. Jesus had promised the Spirit but they had no idea what that meant. There was a pause time before the coming of the Spirit.

This week’s scripture speaks about communities in conflict, uncertainty in direction, and the restoration that only God can provide. God “will himself restore, support, strengthen and establish you” (1Peter5:10). The scriptures, written about freedom from oppression (Ps. 68), guidance in time of persecution (1Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11), and prayer for protection (Jn.17:1-11), point us to trust in the outpouring of the Spirit.

In the midst of New Life we are reminded of the work yet to be done. We are still communities in conflict. We are reminded of the brokenness of our lives, of people still oppressed. We are reminded that people are still persecuted through exclusion, discrimination, harassment, and unjust laws. And we are reminded that people, who, living in fear, so desperately need protection, healing, and freedom. We are reminded of our need to “let God rise up” (Ps. 68:1) with transforming love within us and within our communities so that Christ’s prayer will be realized. “Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.” (Jn.17:11).

But…what does it mean to be one? Does it really mean to be the same? Does it mean to be whole? How are God and Jesus one yet different? How can we embrace our oneness in Christ, in God, in humanity, in a way that surpasses our differences? How can we create that surprising and unexpected unity that comes from accepting our differences?

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