Sunday, May 20, 2012

Homily for Easter VII

(Working outline, as this is a "preach from the aisle" church.)

John 17:6-19
St Christopher’s, Rantoul

·       Wherever I go, there’s an elephant in the room: Church just isn’t like it used to be. More old people, fewer young people (if any). Empty pews, depressed morale. This elephant is certainly present at St Christopher’s.
·       It’s tempting for people like … bishops … to want to ride into places like … Rantoul… as if they were “white knights” (new sheriff, Lone Ranger w/ silver bullet), ready to “fix” things and restore everything to the glory of … 1960.
·       I am going to resist that temptation, because I cannot fix anything and I cannot see the future. I believe God has an exciting future in mind for the community of Christian disciples known as the Diocese of Springfield, but I cannot promise you anything about what that future looks like.
·       Here’s what I can promise you: We are a community for whom Jesus prays.
·       Narrative context (eve of crucifixion) … Jesus turns his attention from his Farewell Discourse, and relegates his disciples (those present then, and, by extension, us) to a marginal but important position of overhearing him in a time of intimate prayer to the Father.
·       I am praying for them; I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours; all mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 
·       This passage has become known as the High Priestly Prayer, because Jesus is exercising the essential ministry of priesthood (generically conceived), which is intercession—he is praying for his followers, particularly in light of his impending absence.
·       As those who overhear, our invitation is not so much to decode instructions or marching orders for ourselves, but to take heart from the knowledge that God the Son lifts up our best interests into the heart of God the Father.
·       We just celebrated the Feast of the Ascension last Thursday, the theological significance of which is that human nature now resides in the heart of God, and that Jesus our High Priest continually makes intercession for us.
·       Jesus our High Priest continually makes intercession for the community of St Christopher’s Church in Rantoul, Illinois. He sees the same “elephants” that we see. Our future is in God’s hands, and I believe we can trust God with that stewardship.
·       This knowledge does not absolve us of responsibility for discerning vocation and living as obedient disciples. But it does allow us to lay down the burden of producing “results.” Our job is to be faithful. Results are up to God. And in the meantime, Jesus is praying for us.

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