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Holy Goodbye - John 17

In John chapter 17 Jesus finishes the discourse of the Last Supper with a prayer.  Jesus' prayer is aimed at both preparing himself for the cross, and his disciples for their loss.  He blesses the disciples and the work they have done.  He prays for unity and protection for them.  He blesses those who will believe because of them.  Jesus knows that they are about to be left alone.  He looks forward to being back in his place side by side with God, but he is aware that the disciples will have a hard time, so he blesses them for the work ahead. 

I remember my last sermon at the Celtic Church in Asheville, NC.  It was my last chance to speak to this crowd of people whom I had come to love so deeply.  I arrived early and blessed the space.  I played music and prayed over that space from the depth of my heart.  I greeted each person with a radiant smile and a hug.  When I stood up and looked at their faces my eyes filled with tears.  Much of the sermon I had prepared for the day was tossed aside, and instead I spent that time blessing these people.  I called out the beauty I had seen in them, I noted it as holy.  I pointed out the work they had done, the difference they had made in each other's lives.  I named the way they had marked me, changed me, and forever made me better.  

Something about last messages is holy.  All the things that we should have been saying the whole time have a way of coming out in those last messages.  The things we say when we won't have another chance...those are the important things...they are holy.  

In our passage today I see the heart of Jesus on full display.  A man who knows he is about to die a brutal death pauses to bless his friends.  Nothing could be more holy than the love in that space at that time.  May we soak it up as we read it and meditate upon it.  

Soon, on July 11th, we will be hearing Pastor Vivian's last sermon as a staff member of LifeJourney Church.  While she plans to stay with us after her retirement, I suspect something of the sort of holy goodbye that we see in Jesus' prayer will be present.  I encourage you to come and feel the presence of that moment.  I promise you, it will be a holy experience.

God, help us to be fully present in holy moments like this.  Help us to feel the presence of our loved ones when they take the time to bless us and give us a holy goodbye.  Give us the strength to honor the space and say our own holy goodbyes when the time is right.  Fill our hearts with peace and love when we mourn the loss of those who have left without being able to give us a holy goodbye.  Amen.  


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