16th May 2021

Easter 7
John 17.6-19
Rev. Canon Cheryl Collins
(This is a very shortened  sermon because of the APCM)

May I speak in the name of God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit

In the words of the popular philosopher Sir Michael Jagger, ‘You can’t always get what you want, but if you try, sometimes you get what you need.’ If we could choose what we would like people to pray for us, would we choose the prayer that Jesus prays for his disciples in our gospel reading? Or, if it’s not quite what we want, might it actually be what we need? Jesus prays, confident in his own love for his disciples and of the Father’s love, for our protection. Protection from lack of unity, protection from falling away from our faith, protection from what Jesus calls ‘the evil one’- the God-denying traps that lead us away from truth and unity and align us with ‘the world’ and its broken values. The unity of Christ’s body is not ours to create, it exists because of who Christ is and what Christ has done.

This means it is not up to us to police who is worthy and who is not. It is a destructive way to live- judgemental, making assumptions and placing people into categoriesrather than waiting to see what gifts they bring to us. It misuses the energy we could be using to participate in God’s work of making all things right. To be human is to fall into this trap at one time or another, and sometimes we struggle to discern what the lesser of two evils might be. Jesus’ prayer encourages us to pray in our turn for God’s wisdom and protection, that we might:

- Have courage to be honest about our differences, since our connectedness with others is based not on what we think or do, but on who we belong to.
- Be challenged to search for avenues of compassion towards one another as we are all human and make mistakes.
- Pray for each other and for our world as fervently as Jesus prays for us here. As Jesus prays to the Father with us on his heart, so we in our turn, in and through Jesus, pray with the world and all its pain and wrongness on our hearts. That’s intercession, moving between the joyful mystery that is the life of God and the suffering of the world.

The strange thing is that the more we can be open to the joy of God’s life the morewe can feel secure enough to be open to the suffering of the world and to each other. Next week we celebrate the day of Pentecost, the birthday of the church. May we, in the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ Jesus, grow in prayer for oneanother and for our world, so that we can be part of God’s work of tikkun olam, repairing the world