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Mother’s Day - Personal Essay

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Today is Mother’s Day, which means so many things to different people, because we all, in some way, had a mother. Maybe yours was like mine.

Mothers taught us religion: “You’d better pray that stain comes out of the carpet.”

They taught us about medicine: “If you don’t stop crossing your eyes, they are going to stay that way.”

They taught us about the flexibility of the human body: “Will you look at the dirt on the back of your neck, and behind your ears!”

They taught us to appreciate a job well done: “If you are going to kill each other, go outside and do it. I just finished cleaning!”

We didn’t realize it at the time, but she taught us about genetics: “You are just like your father.”

And maybe she especially taught us about logic: “Because I said so, that’s why!”

Henry Ward Beecher had a huge following in Boston. Every Monday morning’s paper featured his sermon of the previous day, and his pastoral prayer. One prayer had this additional comment by the person who sat in that church with the sole job of writing down every word the preacher said. On one occasion, the comment was, “The prayer is surely the finest prayer ever addressed to a Boston audience.” To which Beecher responded, “I never pray to a Bost audience. I pray to God. If some want to listen in, so be it.” By the grace of God, Jesus’ disciples were listening when he prayed for them the last time he prayed for them, and us, on this earth. I say that because he still intercedes for us, as does the Holy Spirit, and the prayer is the same.

Today’s Scripture represents what Jesus prayed for on the fateful night we keep coming back to, when he shared the Passover with his disciples and friends, washed their feet, called them his friends, prayed for them and then they sang a hymn, and they went out into the night to be betrayed by most of them, not just Judas Iscariot.

This morning I want us to listen to what has been described as Jesus’ ‘High Priestly Prayer,’ when He, as eternal leader of the church that bears his name and Spirit, prays for all the people who will ever be covered by his grace and emboldened by His Spirit.

For if we listen closely, we hear desperation, as Jesus looks to the heavens, praying for his friends. Surrounded by loved ones, Jesus begs God to watch over his friends while he is gone. “I am asking on their behalf,” Jesus says as he offers his supplication. “Now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world.” He pleads for God ”to protect them in your name.” With both crucifixion and ascension on the horizon, the agony of his departure gnaws at his soul; the absence from them torments his thoughts. “While I was with them, I protected them,” he cries to the stars. “I guarded them.” For the third time in our short passage, Jesus pleads for God’s protection – Jesus again repeating himself, using the same word over and over again. [guarded]

He has lived his life for them – “for their sakes” – and now glimpses a future without them, without his beloved resting on his chest. His spirit is in a panic because he can imagine the agony of his severance from them. His mind is frantic because his body is eternally bound to theirs – “you in me, and I in you.” All of this is an unbearable travail.

Jesus yearns. His longing fuels welcome. The communion of divine love will consummate history. Julian of Norwich, the 14th century theologian, is unparalleled in her vision of Jesus’ longing for reunion with his friends. “We are his joy,” as she writes in chapter 31 of a long essay of Revelations of the Divine Love.” “He has longed to have us.” Salvation is God’s work of drawing us up to his [Christ’s] bliss.”

This is the spiritual thirst of Christ, the love-longing that lasts and ever shall last until we see Christ face to face.

Some of us that will be saved, and shall be Christ’s joy and his bliss, are still here on earth, and some are yet to come, and it shall be so until that day of consummation. Therefore it seems to me that this is his thirst which he had on the cross – a longing and thirst which it seems to me had been in him for all eternity – those he has, and shall have until the time when the last soul which is to be saved has come up to his bliss.”

Christian theology is a love story. “ For God so loved the world,

“ the Gospel of John declares at the beginning. The love is Jesus. And Jesus is thirsty. Here in this prayer.

You know of Pierre and Marie Currie, the couple



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