Sunday, May 13, 2018

A Mothers Prayer - John 17:11-19

There is a moment in Despicable me too During Gru and Lucy's wedding that Agnes says
to herself “Okay.” As she stands on top of the girls' wedding table and turns to everyone else and says in a timid voice “Excuse me? Um, hi, excuse me?” Her sister Margo ticks on her glass with a fork multiple times like a cow bell, attracting everyone's attention to a nervous Agnes as she continues “Uh, [clears her throat] Hi, everybody! I'd like to make some toast. Uh... [looks at Gru]”
[smiles; quietly] Okay.
“[nervous] She, um, she kisses my boo-boos, she braids my hair. [happily] We love you mothers everywhere, [turns to her parents] and my new mom Lucy is beyond compare. [receives an outstanding ovation]”
I can sort of relate to that…you see I was adopted. The story goes that My parents were not able to have children of their own and so they decided to try to adopt. Being good Catholics, they went through the Catholic adoption services.
They had a ton of paper work to fill out and they had to endure the nerve wracking interviews and  home visits just to reassure the agency all was well and then they had to wait. They were told they would have to foster a child first. This way the agency could observe them and be sure they were fit not just to adopt but to raise a child.
One Saturday my mother got a phone call that they had a baby boy for them.  My father was on maneuvers as he was in the reserves.  His commanding officer called him into the office, which I am sure was nerve wracking because well you just don’t get called into the commanding officers office to say hello. They sent him home, so he could be there for my arrival.
A year later they were allowed to adopt me.  That is how I got a mother and a father. A year later we adopted my brother and then 8 years after me we adopted my sister….and that’s how I got a family.
I know my Mother prays for me but more importantly I know she prays for this congregation after all remember …she raised me...
Now today is Mother’s Day and we honor all those who are mothers, who have been mothering in one way or another…for some that might have been a mister mom or a sibling who stepped into the role for others Mother day may be a bit painful depending on how one’s relationship was with their mother and or perhaps your mother is no longer with us.
I just want to acknowledge that for some this may be hard and for others it may be a less traditional celebration...we lift prayers for all today
So, knowing today is mother’s day I went hunting

Samuel, proverbs, exodus, genesis, Ezekiel, Mathew, Romans, Luke, Ephesians, Kings, timothy, Isaiah, Hebrews, and acts… These are some of the readings used for Mother’s Day but I found no reference to this reading…Now I know this reading had to be read on Mother’s Day before just because of the cycle of the readings and the way the calendar works.  So, after some thought, I decided to stay with this reading as this is the reading for today and it is a beautiful prayer.
Jesus is praying for his followers. Jesus reminds them that the Father… I am sorry let’s try that again … loving parent God, mmm we had a deacon down in north Hollywood who would always say with the greatest of ease mama papa God….  But for today, for today let us say Mother God. Jesus reminds them that had chosen them and appointed the Son over them. They had come from the world, and Jesus had given them the words the Mother had instructed for them to be taught. He tells the Mother that they had accepted and kept this word. He also says that they had surely believed that Jesus had been sent by the Mother.
This seems to be rather odd words for Jesus to be speaking about the disciples, particularly because the men were about to utterly fail Him in His moment of crisis. And as Jesus predicted, Peter denies him three times. Judas betrays him.  None of the men can stay awake with him…they all flee before the cross except for one. it is only the beloved disciple and the women followers who stay. Even we, who have the rest of the story in front of us sometimes have difficulty following what Jesus says here. So why does Jesus treat them as though they were faithful followers?
Perhaps one way to look at this is that Jesus does not just see us where we are. He sees us also after He has finished working with us. God calls us to grow and live into who we are called to be. Yet we, as children, are prone to wander off.  We are but human and often we do not feel that we deserve to be called children of God. But God makes everything perfect in Her time in her way. Just as we proudly proclaim here, no matter who you are or where you are in life’s journey and that is not just a saying that is the grace of being children of God.
The disciples would emerge from these days of the crucifixion scarred, but Jesus would rise from the dead to bolster them. He and the Mother would send the Holy Spirit to guide them. They would become bold witnesses who would lay down their lives for Jesus and for their brothers and sisters in Christ. So, Jesus calls us what we shall become. The failures will pass. Later on, Paul could call the Corinthians “saints” even though their behavior was hardly “saintly.” This should give us hope as well. We have the promise that the One who began a good work in us will finish it in the day of Jesus Christ.” Jesus had said about Himself that His work was successfully finished, even before the cross. It was finished before it was finished. This is the way God works in us. She sees us as complete just where we are.
So, what if we listen to todays reading with a loving mother words in mind as she prays for her children

Loving God
I spelled out your character in detail
To the men and women, my children, that you gave me.
They were yours in the first place;
Then you gave them to me, to care for, to teach, to raise
And now they have done what you said.
They know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt,
That everything you gave me is firsthand from you,
For the message you gave me, I gave them;
The skills you gave me, I give them, the love you gave me I give them…
And they took it, and were convinced
That I came from you.
They believed that you sent me.
I pray for them.
I’m not praying for the God-rejecting world
But for those you gave me,
For they are yours by right.
Everything mine is yours, and yours mine,
And my life is on display in them.
For I’m no longer going to be visible in the world;
They’ll continue in the world
While I return to you.
Holy Creator Mother Father mama papa God, guard them as they pursue this life
That you conferred as a gift through me,
So they can be of one heart and mind
As we are of one heart and mind.
As long as I was with them, I guarded them
In the pursuit of the life you gave through me;
I even posted a night watch.
And not one of them got away,
Except for the rebel bent on destruction
(the exception that proved the rule of Scripture).

13-19 Now I’m returning to you.
I’m saying these things in the world’s hearing
So, my children can experience
My joy completed in them as through them is my joy complete
I gave them your word;
The godless world hated them because of it,
Because they didn’t join the world’s ways,
Just as I didn’t join the world’s ways.
I’m not asking that you take them out of the world, oh no lord, I am not asking that,
But that you guard them from the Evil One.
They are no more defined by the world
Than I am defined by the world.
Make them holy—consecrated—with the truth;
Your word is consecrating truth.
In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world,
I give them a mission in the world.
I’m consecrating myself for their sakes
So, they’ll be truth-consecrated in their mission.

A simple prayer so simple I can hear mothers all over the world praying almost the exact same thing for their children. Jesus is praying for His disciple’s sanctification. He does not pray that they are set apart from all that may come to them in this world but that they may live into this world blessed.  The prayer is that through their blessing they may bless this world.
This is a prayer lifted by Jesus to his followers knowing he is about to leave, we are encouraged not to dwell in feelings of abandonment or despair, but to hope in the assurance of Jesus' continuing presence, now that the work for which he was sent has been accomplished. "I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do" (17:4).
One of the interesting things to note about this prayer is the language of Giving which is found at least nine times in this passage.  There is this concept of giving that is cyclical from the creator to Jesus back to the creator to Jesus, to us back to the creator. Both the Mother and the Son are "givers" and their mutual giving constitutes the grace which we have inherited, and it is through that grace we are called to live. It is in this giving that the Mother and Son are one.
Knowing the Word

This prayer is for us, just as much as it is for Jesus’ followers and in this prayer, we hear that we have been given the "word”. Because of John's witness to the "Word become flesh" (1:14) we are meant to understand that "word" in its double sense. In verse 8 we can see the Christian life as it unfolds in the reception of that word in its multiple senses.
Jesus has given to us only those words which he has first received from the Mother;
we have received and accepted those words
Through our study and faith as receivers of the word we understand that Jesus comes from the creator Mother God
To respond in such a way to the "word" which has been given in Jesus is to know ourselves in the intimate bonds of belonging to him. Similar to Paul's assertion that there is nothing that can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38), so the very glory of Jesus in his resurrection is focused in this community of believers who now belong to him. Jesus' prayer claims an intimate oneness in the sharing of concern for these who are the objects of the Mother’s giving love through the Son: "All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I have been glorified in them" (17:10).
It would be so nice to just Bask in the words of this prayer, to literally bask in the son, but alas there is still work to be done!
Because of who the Mother is and what the Mother has "given" in love to the Son -- we can know ourselves as made holy and kept holy in the truth of the word (17:17). But that holiness is not a one of separation from, but precisely for immersion in the world. Again, we hear John's "just as" theology of the sending of the Son. "As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world" (17:18). Our oneness with the Son and Mother will imply a responsibility for the world. Just as Jesus embraced the world so are we called to minister to the world and even lift prayers for the world and bring the light of the word into its darkest corners.
It is precisely because of the Mother's love, that this community of disciples are sent into the world, just as the Mother's love has sent the Son into the world. We thus are again reminded of the two-fold significance of "world" for John. The world is both that which does not know or understands the word and/or refuses the Word (1:10) , but the world is also the object of the Mother's love and of Jesus’ and the disciples' ongoing love and mission.
As such disciples, too, we are sent into the world armed with the word in its two-fold sense -- the Mother's Word now become flesh, and the words of that Word. We carry that word, that healing message of God into the World. In our struggle to be disciples we are sustained in that word. We can know ourselves as community of Disciples connected and working in a larger community around the globe working through the power of Christ's resurrection and in the promise of his presence in the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Counselor and Comforter. This is the Creators, the Mother Father God, the mama papa God’s prayer for us today and every day that first and foremost we are the loving community of Christ Living out the prayer that we may all be one and that we work to bring  The Word…the love that is God in to the world …to bring about a just world for all. Amen!

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