Sermons

Life Changing Prayer

Life Changing Prayer

May 17, 2015

Passage:Acts 1:15-26

Preacher: The Rev. Jo Roberts Craig

Series: Easter

Category: High Priestly Prayer

Keywords: forgiveness, guilt, prayer, reconciliation, risk, shame

Summary:

The High Priestly Prayer in the Gospel of John opens for us the way of a disciplined and Holy life. It gives us the tools for forgiveness of God, self, and others. It can show us the beginnings of a life with shame.

Detail:

The Gospel lesson from John is one of intimacy…It is almost painful to read or to hear…Jesus is praying to His Father in Heaven…with the Disciples present

 

He has just spent a good deal of time with them explaining His earthly ministry and purpose…telling them that although He is leaving them; He will send them the Advocate…the Holy Spirit…who will lead them into all truth

 

Jesus has also just told the disciples that the hour is coming…indeed it has come… when they will scatter and leave Him alone

 

But loving and caring for them, He tells them that He will not be alone because the Father is in Him and that in Him there is peace

 

And that knowing that the Father is in Jesus and Jesus is in the Father…The disciples are to be in peace

 

Jesus recounts to God a deep seated and profound relationship with the eleven that states very clearly that the disciples …in their inmost nature…have absorbed the words of Jesus and have adopted them as their own

 

Jesus prays as though the disciples have heard and absorbed every word that He said

 

He prays as though the Disciples have understood every healing; that they have understood Lazarus being raised from the dead

 

As though they have understood that in asking the Father to sanctify them…Jesus is saying that they heard and absorbed His words as the truth and

 

As though they had had committed themselves to living life on higher plane

 

In John for Jesus to ask for the disciples to be made Holy means that while they are not perfect they have been consecrated to Christ

 

He says clearly and in several different ways:

All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them

 

The disciples are to share the joy of Jesus which means that they are to delight in the salvific nature of God…

 

All of this is said just before Jesus goes out with His disciples to the Kidron Valley where He and His disciples are met by Judas and a detachment of soldiers with police from the Pharisees and the High Priests

 

Who have come with torches and weapons…to arrest Jesus and ultimately to crucify Him

 

I think the reason this High Priestly Prayer is so difficult to listen to…to read…to absorb is that it is based on the relationship that God has with God’s creatures

 

It calls the disciples and ultimately us to live an abundant life and that abundant life that we are to live is a life of thanksgiving to God

 

That life slips through our fingers over and over…we fail to understand on a complex, deep, and disciplined level that the life offered to us by God is eternal life…a life in which we find ourselves covered in blessings…

 

A life that gives us hope and peace…A disciplined life that results in accepting the ethical challenges that demand the “doing” of truth in concrete actions

It is a disciplined life that requires one to tell the truth and to live the truth as witnesses to Jesus and the words that He spoke in the High Priestly Prayer

 

And finally I think it calls us to perhaps the most difficult of all examples of discipleship and that is forgiveness and reconciliation

 

When Jesus prays His prayer, He knows clearly that He is on the very brink of His arrest and resulting death

 

He knows that the Disciples will cut and run…And He FORGIVES them before the fact

 

He not only forgives…He calls them into a reconciling and peaceful life

 

He prays so that they can hear Him say clearly that they are to be at peace…they are not to mull this betrayal over and over

 

They are not to hide in their private spaces and feel guilty and refuse to move forward into telling the world about the salvific nature of Jesus Christ

 

They are not to lose themselves in their own sin and to make it a part of their guilty and immovable selves…

 

They are to live in joy and in the knowledge that they are God’s own

 

I believe with all my heart that Jesus prayed this prayer and prepared the Disciples in this way because guilt and separation from God and self is one of the greatest and most powerful tools of brokenness that we possess

 

Shame and guilt can paralyze us and lock us out of the opportunity for restoration to self and others…It can erase the joy that we once possessed…

 

To live in forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts in the world…Jesus gave that gift to us and we are to practice it at every opportunity

 

I think we have to start with ourselves…we have to be daring and decide that with discipline and prayer, we can forgive ourselves…we can love ourselves

 

That has to be the first step…you cannot love and forgive anyone else unless you first love God and self

 

And perhaps we have to forgive God…as out place as that may seem…We often blame God for tragedy and pain because it is too difficult to image that pain so great could come from anywhere except a powerful and all knowing God

 

Stepping out in faith and living in prayer ….saying the words to ourselves…I forgive me…I love me…I love what God made in me…I love the gifts that I possess

 

Then we are to begin the process…the disciplined process of forgiving others

 

I find that reading the prayer that Jesus prayed to be a wonderful and practical way to begin

 

Can you imagine that God wanted so badly for us to live in love and reconciliation that He forgave us…before the fact…for our ignorance, our betrayal, our cowardice, our lies…

 

What an overwhelming and generous gift…Only God could be so generous…

 

But we are one with God and with God in us and before us and behind and beside us…we can learn and we can be set free to minister to others and to love

 

To break the bonds of hate, guilt, fear, and shame…

 

It is God’s greatest gift to us…a reconciling, liberating love that knows no limitations.

 

Amen

 

References:

Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary

The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible

The New Oxford Annotated Bible, Fully Revised Fourth Edition

The Oxford English Dictionary