Scripture: John 17:1-11 (NRSV)
After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.
"I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.
And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.
If you've been around the UCC for any length of time, you've seen this scripture quoted, "...that they may be one." It is a shining light in our churches as we strive to be united and uniting.
Have you ever looked deeply at the entire passage? It's a prayer. I think it's one of the most moving texts in the Bible as our own Lord, Jesus, takes the time and prays for us.
What's in his prayer? Well, at least in this part of the prayer, there's these two elements: that we may know God, and that we may be protected by God. Wow -- our Savior prays for us.
This moves me, and every time I re-read this prayer I am reminded that Jesus asks God for two of the greatest gifts for us: knowledge (knowledge that leads to closer relationship with one another and God) and protection (protection that leads to being united with one another and God). How blessed we are to have a Savior that prays this for us!
For many of us, we are in the season of Confirmation. As our church prepares for Confirmation Sunday, I am reminded of the gifts of our young people; and I can't think of a better prayer than the one Jesus himself prayed.
Jesus, thank you for praying for us. We lift up to you all of our Confirmation students and ask that you give them knowledge -- closer relationship with you and with neighbor -- and protection, that we all may be one. Amen.