About two years ago, a friend and mentor of mine gave me a set of cards. On the cards were verses of scripture – one for every day. Each card included my name as the object of God’s love. Many of the verses were familiar, and I recall thinking that this was a “sweet” gift and set them on my dresser as recommended where I could see and read them daily.
I did not anticipate the power in my friend’s gift. As it happened, I was also experiencing a confusing personal time.
My spirit needed a reminder of God’s Spirit. I needed to hear the stories of Jesus’ charity in living amongst his disciples. I needed to hear my name as one who was also loved. Day by day God spoke through this expression of friendship, calling me closer.
I began to see God’s active labor more clearly than before… Outdoors as the wind gently re-arranged my hair… The release of poisoned thought when I opened up to grief… Shifts in reality during times of honest reflection…Courage when meeting challenges head-on… Growth in the experience of Christ-shared prayer.
In John 17: 13-23, there is a call in Jesus’ prayer. At the end of his earthly life Christ asks Our Creator to be “one in heart and mind with us” so that the “world might believe.” I think Jesus is also asking us to become declarations of God’s love through this unity.
The Message by Eugene H. Peterson says the prayer like this –
13-19“Now I’m returning to you.
I’m saying these things in the world’s hearing
So my people can experience
My joy completed in them.
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
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.
20-23 I’m praying not only for them
But also for those who will believe in me
Because of them and their witness about me.
The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me.
Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you’ve sent me and loved them
In the same way you’ve loved me.
Jesus tells us in John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”
My friend declared God’s love through her gift. May we be fruit-bearing branches, too.
We thank You, God of Peace, for the life and sacrifice of our Lord, Jesus Christ. May the love You give through Your Son change our inner world, so that with humility, we can be examples of Your love to the world outside our selves. Amen.