Skip to main content

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.  


Popular posts from this blog

Death Will Lose it's Sting

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is 1 Corinthians 15:51-57. In these verses, Paul reveals a mystery, that in the end some will be transformed, given a new body, instead of facing death.  In other words death is not one of life's two certain terms.  It seems taxes may be the only guarantee.   " this world nothing can be said to be certain, except  death and taxes ." - Benjamin Franklin. Ok, all jokes aside, these verses are difficult to read.  Paul looks forward to a time when death will have no victory, it will have lost its sting.  But today, we are in the middle of a pandemic, surrounded by death.  Many are scared for their lives, or their loved ones, and too many have already been lost.  Death does not seem to have lost its sting at all, it feels as if it is closing in. When I worked in wilderness therapy I remember holding a child who was desperately trying to kill himself.  We cried together as he struggled to end it, and I struggled

Fool for Christ

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is 2 Corinthians 5.  Verse 13 stood out to me. If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. - 2 Corinthians 5:13a (NLT) John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard churches did a famous sermon called "I am a fool for Christ, whose fool are you?".  Reading this week's text reminded me of this wonderful sermon.  Wimber's sermon reminds us that, as christians, we are called to something truly radical.  The christian walk is strange and counter cultural.  Jesus once explained this to his disciples in John 15 "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. You don't belong to this world, I have chosen you out of it.  That is why the world hates you."   Peter, in a letter to the church, later referred to all of us as strangers just passing through this world.   Do you feel like a stranger?  Do you feel like the world hates you?  Are you a fool for Christ? Here is the thing, you are going t

Deeper Discipleship

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is Mark 10:17-22.  A wealthy man approaches Jesus with great respect and asks what he must do to have the abundant life Jesus has been preaching about.  Jesus reminds him of the commandments, but the man claims to have followed them since childhood.  Jesus looks him in the eye and something changes.  Mark tells us that Jesus loved him in this moment, so he invites him to sell all of his belongings, and follow him.  He invites him to become a disciple.  All of the other disciples had to do the same thing in order to follow Jesus.  They dropped their nets, left their family, and followed Jesus.  In this case, the man could not do it.  The scriptures tell us that he had a lot of wealth, a lot he was unwilling to let go of.  He left that encounter disappointed, because the cost of discipleship was too great.  I notice that Jesus starts with the law as the answer to the question, almost giving a basic book answer.  It is only after