I’m currently reading through a book about editing fiction,
and there is a whole chapter on “beats”
the various ways editors break up dialogue to create white space on the page and give our eyes time to process the information we’re reading…
and when you read John’s Gospel from chapter 14-17,
it feels like someone should have added a few beats.
It’s one long discourse,
Jesus’ Long Goodbye after the Last Supper,
three chapters of him talking…
and then here, him praying.
If John had an Editor I imagine she’d tell him to break up the prayer by showing the tension in the air as this prayer marks a great transition point from
Meal to Passion,
ministry to resurrection,
Incarnation to Ascension!
Perhaps describe the disciples hanging on every word, there at table with him.
Describe their dawning realization that Jesus is speaking into existence a community
—a community filled with the Spirit,
led by the message of Easter…
Describing, in short, Our Lord’s Other Prayer.
There is this moment for acrobats on the trapeze,
the First Catcher has let go of the Flyer,
but the Second Catcher hasn’t grasped them yet…
A moment that hangs there, shimmering
(literally hanging in the air),
a moment for the audience to hold their breath,
And then the Flyer is caught,
We can catch our breathe,
the Flyer is held safely again.
that’s where they are,
where the earliest of Church is…
Jesus let’s go, with this prayer,
the Spirit’s arms are ready to catch them…
but there is still Cross and Tomb and Easter Joy.
This is the moment where you hold your breath.
He is praying for them, for us, in this moment…
This moment of tension and transition,
a new world coming into existence
—the resurrection of the whole Church.
In Ecology, transition points in nature
—where white shore gives way to blue ocean waves,
green forests to amber plains
—they are rich spaces, filled with crosspollination and an opulent diversity…
And so too here, as Jesus prays:
what will come of the Spirit’s guiding,
the Church’s mission
—will be magnificent…
-Once Jesus was here among us;
-Now Jesus is everywhere among us!
Or, think of growing pains in children
—it’s the reason they’re often so fidgety,
their bodies are changing,
they are becoming,
they live life between shore and ocean,
they live in that moment where we all hold our breath and look up in the big top!
And Jesus is praying for these disciples,
and if you read the whole of Chapter 17 (please do!)
he’s praying for us too,
all who have heard the Gospel,
All who have come to faith,
Are in his Prayer!
As we all at Spruce Run enter into our own points of transition
-Returning to in-person worship
-Re-engaging with our community
-All of us figuring out how to be faithful here on the other side of this year,
spaces of crosspollination,
hanging in the air
aware that the Spirit will catch us….
In all this, don’t forget that Our Lord did not just teach us to pray, but also prayed for us, in the Lord’s Other Prayer:
I have completed my work in the world
—the work you gave me to do is fulfilled.” He prays.
“In me all may know you as Father,
and know that my messiah-ship continues that first act of creation,
it is the re-creation of the world.”
He pauses, ensuring that his Disciples are listening in,
“They belong to you, Sacred Parent,
because you gave them to me and I am returning to you.
They belong to you,
because they know me through my words and as the Word made Flesh.”
“They are part of my story now,” he prays,
“they belong to the Word,
even as they are in the world.
My Story and the World’s story,”
“Protect them, Loving Father,” he prays,
“for my Way is not an escape from the world,
but its resurrection and transformation."
He reaches out his hands to them.
The Disciple’s hands are shaking,
but they all join hands,
one with another,
“I pray that my disciples might be one, as we are one.
And not they alone,
but all who will be moved by the testimonies of their lips and their lives.
I pray for all who are moved by my story,
may they all be one
He concludes, “May they all experience your total love, Father,
the love that was there at the moment of creation.
May the love with which you loved me
be in them.”
And they all said Amen.