Jesus’ Last Will and Testament
This is the last Sunday of the Season of Easter. It is also Memorial Day in the United States. I believe it is a great time to look at what is called the last will and testament of Jesus to see what that might mean for the church, and for our country on this very special day.
For some weeks we have been looking at the farewell discourses of Jesus in the Upper Room the night before his crucifixion. This week we are reading out of the 17th chapter of John. It has been called the High Priestly Prayer, or the last will and testament of Jesus.
Earlier in the chapter Jesus prays for the disciples of his day. By the time we get to this part of the prayer we discover that Jesus is praying for his disciples of all time. Jesus is praying for you and me.
So, whatever we share about Jesus’ will for us Jesus is praying it might happen in our lives right now. It is the prayer we pray in the Lord’s Prayer every time we pray it. “Thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”
When we look closely, we discover Jesus is praying for you and me to be so close that we are as close as Jesus and God the Creator are in relationship.
What does that mean? Every time we cross ourselves and say; “In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit we are proclaiming we believe in a God who is expressed in three persons, the creator, the redeemer, and the one who continues to guide us even today.
Each person of the Trinity is a unique person, but they work so closely together that we insist they are one, and this reality means while three persons, there is only one God.
What does that mean for you and me? How many of us were here the day this congregation organized? How many of us were born in High Point? How many of us have been Lutherans all our lives?
We are a diverse congregation. Not all have been what my daughter calls “cradle Lutherans”. Our opinions differ. I know there are both conservatives, and progressives in this congregation. The point of view of people who have been with the congregation are going to be different from folks who have recently joined.
How might we become one? First, while all of us have different pasts, we currently have the same present and future. What can we learn from each other? For one I have had parish experience in 14 congregations from three denominations. I have been a pastor at 11 of them. I have experienced worship out of 5 different Lutheran worship books. I have been in rural, small town, large town, inner city, and suburban.
Every place I have been has its own unique style. I bet for most of you this is not the first congregation you have attended.
That means we all have different views on just how a congregation should operate.
This is the first congregation I have served that is currently being so awesomely blessed.
My first Sunday here was early in the time we were meeting together after Covid 19. There were 8 in attendance. Two of them were Ann and me. Christmas Eve there were 49 worshippers here, plus the Holy Spirit. We have conducted three baptisms, two were infants. Three adults will be joining next Sunday, and several new members have already joined.
Financially we are in an amazing time. In January we decided to put new flooring in the Fellowship Hall, the Narthex, and the Hallway. The cost is estimated to be $15,000. A friend of the congregation gave us a $10,000 gift to get us started. The flooring will be installed paid for. At the end of the first quarter of this year it was estimated we were $1,200 behind. One of our members decided to give $6,000. Last weekend we had a yard sale that netted over $1,100.
The Lord has really blessed us with all our bills being paid and money in the bank. We are blessed with people who have joined, and with people who are considering joining, and some who just enjoy worshipping with us.
What might the Lord be asking us to be and do? I am convinced our primary reason for being is to “make and grow disciples.” I believe our challenge is to decide what programs and events we might do. I believe that enough of us have experienced grief this year that we need to have a 10-week grief support group meet this summer. I believe that we need to return to a Bible Study this fall. I believe we also need to be looking outside our walls. What ways might we serve the spiritual and physical needs in our community?
And then, possibly the greatest challenge of all, how does this congregation learn to know each other better and take seriously the individual visions we have as we move into God’s future? I believe that we begin by praying together for the Spirit’s guidance, study the scripture together, and then really listen to what each other is saying and wanting to do to discover what God wants us to do.
Unity is not conformity. Unity is expecting to find what we have in common and what differences there are, and then how to support each other in acting out our diverse visions of what that future might be.
Also continue to trust that Jesus is praying for us right now. Be willing to dare, and to try, and to do, and even make mistakes. Christ is here to inspire, lead, and even forgive us when we go astray.
But let’s keep ever before us, if we really seek to love and listen to each other, Christ will lead us on into God’s future, possibly different than one any of us expected.
With that attitude we might even give our local politics and politicians the challenge of listening together and seek the compromises that will help our country become a more perfect union. Why not, we are God’s people? Amen.