Apocalypse Now

7 Easter Year C

“The Lord is King; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of the isles rejoice.” (Psalm 97: 1) In other words—God is able to be known in the remotest most isolated parts of creation. —No place is too small, too far, too insignificant for God. And there is no such thing as a God-forsaken place.

The first time I ever read the 17th chapter of John from beginning to end, I was astonished to realize that Jesus had prayed —thoroughly— for his disciples, before the events of his trial, and crucifixion took place.This is a big prayer. Biblical scholars refer to it as the high priestly prayer, and even that does not encompass the reach and the power of this prayer.

“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they all may be one.”

This prayer is the basis of our salvation—our foundation and our cornerstone on which we proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ and also the truth and substance of what we believe. And there is no end date for the power and effectiveness of this prayer and the ways in which God will reveal God’s presence and peace in our midst. Jesus looks beyond the circumstances confronting him and finds the heart of God, the protection and the gift of life eternal, right there—right there where the disciples are so overwhelmed with anxiety and dread as they listen to Jesus.

Does the fact that Jesus prayed for his disciples (and for us) before he was arrested—before they went with him to the Garden of Gethsemane make any difference to us today? It should.

I think back to the day that I sat down and read John 17 from beginning to end without an interruption (which with two small children and a husband who travelled frequently for business, was a rare occurrence.) When I realized what I was reading—how Jesus revealed God through what and how he prayed, I began to understand just how all-encompassing is God’s presence, God’s peace and God’s power. Surpassing time and human understanding, the substance and power of this prayer are as fully in force today as they have always been.

That day marked a turning point in my life, something I hadn’t really seen on the horizon, but nevertheless, a major shift in my life purpose. It made all the difference in the world to me to discover the wonder of this chapter and to really study it and go back to the beginning of this time with the disciples and read through chapters 14-18. I recommend it to you. There is so much far-reaching sacramental prayer that comes not just from the words Jesus spoke but the substance and the power of them. See how loved and protected you truly are!

Interestingly, it is paired with the very end of the Revelation of Jesus Christ to John. It is the book of Revelation that is considered Apocalyptic—but the 4 chapters of John that I studied that afternoon long ago and read through again this week are truly the Apocalypse. The definition of apocalypse is: (Ancient Greek: ἀποκάλυψις apokálypsis, from ἀπό and καλύπτω meaning “uncovering”), translated literally from Greek, is a disclosure of knowledge, i.e., a lifting of the veil or revelation.” from Wikipedia

And right here on the pages of Scripture we see God revealed through Jesus Christ. “Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

So, in addition to being gathered in this familiar and sacred space to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, today we celebrate a paradox—Jesus Christ is risen and has ascended (while we were drinking margaritas and celebrating Cinco de Mayo on Thursday.) And now, today, we are stopped in our tracks and suddenly able to see through Jesus; revealing the breadth, depth and endless dimensions of Gods steadfast love and faithfulness that we are one in Spirit, one in God’s community of faith and carried forward in love but the simplest most heartfelt prayer that was prayed for all of humanity, one evening 2000+ years ago. Before we were known to our families, to ourselves and each other, we were known to God. We have it right here in the Word of God. All around us, in the midst of us, the Spirit of God is at work, in motion, fully in power.

“Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift. The one who testifies to these things says “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.” The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with all the saints.”

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