One Crazy Email

I really wanted to post something tonight, and I just couldn’t figure out what to write about. So I dug deep into the crevices of my computer. I am a digital packrat. I keep everything I’ve ever created on a computer. I have copies of every email I’ve sent and received since 1996. I have old documents…old photos…old sound files I downloaded from AOL, back when I used to have an account with them I never paid for. *ahem* Of course, that’s not true. *ahem* I would never do that.

Anyway…I just found this. It’s an email I sent to a friend in October 1997. I was in my first semester at seminary, and I was feeling like I didn’t fit it. At that time, I did not really want to be a pastor; I just wanted to learn theology. I was even questioning my faith at the time. Seminary is…well, it’s an interesting place to be when you’re questioning your faith. I’d venture to say that I had zero classmates who shared that doubt, at least zero who were willing to talk about it. (Incidentally, my father attended seminary in the early 1970’s. I remember him telling me once that it was an interesting time to be there, because there were a number of folks who were there primarily to avoid the draft. I wonder if I might have found more kindred spirits back then…) I was also living in Philadelphia, an unfamiliar city. (Prior to this, I had thought that the West End of Allentown, where I attended college, was the big city.) I was connected to friends and family via email, but little else. In retrospect, it was actually a pretty powerful and exciting time in my life. In the moment, I felt lonely.

Anyway…a friend emailed me from her college in New England. Her message was longer, more intimate, and more profound than anything she’d shared with me before. She was reaching out for connection, I think, something I was so looking for myself. In her message, she wondered if she would be happier if she were “crazy.” I wrote this in response. Almost twenty years later, I enjoy reading it:

Crazy. I know crazy. Crazy is when you hear a song lyric, and it fits your life better than that of the author. Crazy is when you hear your name whistling in the wind. When you realize how similar we all are, and how much the human race is just one person in a billion bodies, crazy is that leftover stuff inside you that doesn’t fit in with anyone else. Crazy is what you do when you look in the mirror with no one else around. All the bits in your life which you DON’T KNOW if anyone else shares, all the things that you think make you YOU, but somewhere deep down wonder if everyone else feels the same way. And there’s no way to find out if somebody else is the same way… this is what drives us crazy. Embrace it, and lose touch. Ignore it, and lose touch. Or ride the line of fear and excitement, the line between ignorance and embracing, and go crazy. Write an email about it, and wonder if what you’re saying makes any sense. Wonder if there’s really anyone out there who could know what you’re saying. Wonder if you’d even understand it if you read it tomorrow. Wonder if you should even mail it. Do it anyway. Either she’ll think you’re crazy, or she’ll know you both are. Either way, if you share it, you’re crazy.

All day I searched for a way to respond to your mail. I looked on Germantown Avenue, as I drove to church. I found only a place called Freedom Square. I looked at church, listening to the sermon of the supply preacher. I found only a miserable attempt to connect with people in a new way, gone horribly awry by an incredible lack of preaching ability mixed with an exorbitant age. I listened in the radio on the way back, and heard only a strange new song by U2 about God, and a strange cover of the Peter Gabriel song “In Your Eyes,” which I’ve always held is about God. I looked in my fellow seminarians watching football, and found only proof that I am crazy. Crazy to be at seminary, crazy to think I could be a pastor, crazy to be alive. Alive to be crazy.

All I found today was loneliness. Loneliness in my friends here. Loneliness in the warmth all over outside, covering the chills who rightfully owns October. Loneliness in the reading I did for my classes, the loneliness of the Bible, the story of a mythical people who may or may not have existed, who may or may not have been the chosen people of a God who may or may not have existed, and, if so, may or may not be the same God who may or may not exist today. And my own estrangement from all this.

I am lonely as well. Lonely because I saw my two best friends from Muhlenberg yesterday at Homecoming, and I know things will never be the same again between us. Lonely because I don’t know anyone here well enough to cry in front of them, which in turn gives me the only reason I have to cry. Lonely because I know I have to stop this pipe dream of being a pastor, a pipe dream I don’t even dream. Lonely because no one here feels the same way. Lonely because everything I know is arbitrary. Lonely because you reached out to me in a way you never have before, and in reaching back, I’m still hundreds of miles, and hundreds of mails, away.

And this is what it means to be crazy, in my craziness (opinion). I am embracing it now. Depeche Mode sang, as I wrote that line, “Only you exist here.” This is what I always called “gothic.” This is the real version of that. I’ve got nail polish, and black makeup, and black clothing, and a forced painful frown on, but only on the inside. I’ve finally succeeded in internalizing this. It’s always been here. I’ve finally given it a name.

Tomorrow I may regret mailing this, but tonight I am crazy, I suppose. This is not ridicule, and this is not fake in any way. This is me, right now. I’m showing you what craziness can be. It is black, and it is purple, and blue, and green. Love it, if you will. Thank you for giving me an interesting day.

I just checked, and it looks like the next time she emailed me was exactly 364 days later. Not sure what that means.

Anyway…here’s a picture from the day before I sent this email. It’s me and the two friends I mentioned. That’s me on the right, in the dapper denim combo.

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Sheesh. I think I still have that shirt. I think I wore it last week.

Snapshots of My Depression #2: The Care Team

This is one in a series of posts I’m calling “Snapshots of my Depression.” These are memories of times in my life when my mental illness manifested itself in one way or another.

When I was in junior high school, the school had something called “The Care Team.” Or maybe it was the “CARE Team,” an acronym for something or other. I have no idea what it might have stood for. But here’s what it was: a group of teachers and staff whose mission was to identify students who were having trouble due to drug addiction or mental illness, and to connect those students with appropriate resources to help them. I remember learning about the CARE team in Health class in ninth grade, and how students could refer other students to the team…I think perhaps it was a new program that year. I have no idea if they succeeded in helping any kids or not. But they certainly tried. They tried to help me.

Continue reading “Snapshots of My Depression #2: The Care Team”

On Hogwarts and the Holy Spirit

This is an adapted form of the sermon I preached this morning, the Day of Pentecost. The reading I preached on was Acts 2:1-21. Today we also celebrated the Confirmation of three of our young people, named Hannah, Lauren, and Owen. As I usually do on Confirmation days, I spoke to the confirmands for much of the sermon, and it was geared directly for them. For that reason, this may be less interesting or accessible for those who are not part of Prince of Peace Ev. Lutheran Church. I’d be curious to know if that’s the case…feel free to let me know in the comment section.

Good morning, Owen, Lauren, Hannah. Looking at the three of you here, you know what I’m reminded of? Hogwarts. Hogwarts, the school of magic in the Harry Potter universe. And here’s why. It’s because you remind me of the Sorting Hat.

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When a young wizard arrives at Hogwarts, one of the first things that happens is they are sorted into one of the houses at Hogwarts. Each house has kind of a personality, a flavor, certain traits that everyone in that house fits into. And the Sorting Hat puts each student in the right house. that. It’s a magical, living hat that can read the student’s mind and heart, and it places them in the house that fits them best.

One house is Hufflepuff. Students in Hufflepuff are devoted to hard work, dedication, quiet loyalty. Lauren, if we had a sorting hat here, I think you’d be placed in house Hufflepuff. You work quietly behind the scenes here at church, setting up for events and worship services, working on service projects. You don’t like to be the center of attention, but you work hard to make things happen. You and Hannah and Owen each chose a Bible verse for your confirmation today, and yours was this: John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” That’s a Hufflepuff Bible verse, Lauren. It’s not flashy, it’s not glitzy, but boy does it work hard. Martin Luther called it the gospel in miniature. Good choice.

And then there’s house Ravenclaw, a house focused on wisdom, intelligence, and wit. Owen, I believe that you would be a Ravenclaw. God has blessed you with quite an intellect, and I am heartened to know that you plan to use that intellect for good. Your dream right now is to become a surgeon, to hone your skills for the sake of saving lives. The Bible verse you chose was Proverbs 13:20: “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm.” A Ravenclaw passage for sure. Keep walking with the wise, Owen. You’ll be fine.

And Hannah, House Gryffindor, the house of courage and bravery. I see that in you because whenever we talk about living our faith in our daily life, you are always trying to do that, Hannah. You are always willing to talk about your faith with others. You always try to put your faith to work. And that is not an easy thing to do, as many of us can attest. That takes bravery and courage and faith. Your Bible verse is Matthew 5:14: “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden.” And that’s you, Hannah. You are Christ’s light, bravely and brightly shining on a hill for all to see.

So here’s one thing I’m good at: putting people in boxes. I don’t mean literally putting people in boxes. I mean labeling people. Lauren, the hard worker. Owen, the whiz kid. Hannah, the brave one. I’m good at that. It helps me make sense of the world. If I can label something, I can understand it better. The trouble is that when I do this, it’s hard to see beyond those labels, beyond those boxes. One of the troubles with Hogwarts is that kids in each house tend to stay in their houses. They tend to become attached to that identity. Those houses actually build barriers between people. That’s a side effect of labeling people like I do: barriers are built.

But here’s one thing God’s good at: breaking down barriers. Breaking down all the barriers that are between us. And that, I think is one of the things that Pentecost is all about.

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This is what our worship space looked like this morning. Amazing!

On Pentecost, the barriers between people dissolved, as the Holy Spirit filled the house where the apostles were sitting. Filled that house with wind and with fire. Filled that house with the Spirit of God. Filled that house so full that it burst. The house didn’t literally burst, but it might as well have, as the apostles came tumbling out, each of them filled with the Holy Spirit, each of them speaking words of hope, words of comfort, words of encouragement, words of resurrection to all the people gathered there, people who were so different from one another, people who had such barriers between them. Even language barriers. They all spoke different languages. But those barriers just faded away in the face of the Holy Spirit. And everyone was able to understand the apostles, to hear them speaking the good news about Jesus. And that was just the beginning. The Holy Spirit arrived on the day of Pentecost, but the Holy Spirit kept on going. And going. And going. And going. All through the book of Acts, the disciples remained filled with the Spirit each and every day, and the Spirit was a Spirit of Wisdom, like House Ravenclaw. It was a Spirit of Courage, like House Gryffindor. It was a Spirit of Hard Work and Dedication, like House Hufflepuff. The disciples were not stuck in any box. They were set free. The Spirit set them free to share that Spirit in all sorts of ways, through healing and proclaiming and encouraging. Just like the three of you. Hannah, Lauren, and Owen, I see you as fitting into Hogwarts houses, but I could be totally wrong about that. But God sees you as far more. You are filled with the Holy Spirit. You have been since the day you were baptized. Today we celebrate that Spirit, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord, the Spirit of joy in God’s presence. The Spirit that is within you. The Spirit that is bubbling up within you, filling you so much that you just might burst, that you just might overflow with that Spirit, that you just might share it with the whole world.

And you have done that already. And you will continue to do it even more. You have the gifts of the Spirit. And through the Spirit, you will share those gifts throughout the world.

How Can I Be Saved?

The first reading from worship last week has been sitting in my head for a while now. I didn’t even preach on it…I preached on the Gospel reading (as I usually do). But it’s the first reading, Acts 16:16-34, that’s been on my mind. I’ve been thinking about what it means to “be saved.”

I have to tell you the story first. Here it is: the early church leaders Paul and Silas get themselves arrested in Macedonia, for healing in the name of Christ and basically disturbing the peace. Paul is thrilled; Paul likes nothing more than being in prison for the Lord. (Silas probably thought the guy was nuts, and I for one agree. But anyway…) That night, there’s an earthquake, and the prison security system is completely compromised. Doors fall down. Chains break. The security cameras stop working. That sort of thing. Well, apparently this prison was under the care of a particular man, the jailer. Let’s call him Jailer Jones for the purpose of this argument. It was his Jailer Jones’ job to see that the prisoners were kept secure. The authorities in Macedonia didn’t really care how Mr. Jones did his job, so long as he did it…so long as when they called him to bring certain prisoners to court or wherever, he could do so. I imagine he was paid reasonably well for his trouble.

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So when Jailer Jones, who lived near the prison, heard and felt the earthquake, he quickly ran out to check on the prison. Bloody hell, he thought, as he looked at it. The front door was completely demolished. That couldn’t be good. He quickly realized that he had failed. That the prisoners had escaped. He knew this would not be forgiven by the authorities. There was only one way to save his family’s honor…he would have to kill himself. He pulled out his sword to do the deed, and I’ll let Luke pick up the story here:

28 But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:28-31, New Revised Standard Version, emphasis mine)

So here’s what strikes me about this passage. Jailer Jones is distraught to the point of suicide, but then runs in and finds the prisoners still there. This was absurd…no one could blame prisoners for leaving when an “act of God” freed them. Not even Paul liked prison enough to stay when he didn’t have to. Why were they still there? That’s the question I would have asked: “Why the hell are you still here?” But instead, Jailer Jones asks them, “How can I avoid being thrown in hell?” (That’s what it means to be saved, right? “Saved” means you get to go to heaven instead of hell, right?) Why would he ask that? Because he wanted to make sure that the next time he tried to commit hari-kari, that he’d go to the right place afterward? Why would he think that these prisoners would have an answer to that question anyway? What do heaven and hell have to do with this story at all?

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Seriously? This is salvation?

Well, I’ve been leading the jury, because I believe heaven and hell don’t have anything to do with this story. I don’t think that’s what Jailer Jones was asking at all. I believe that he was actually asking them, “Why are you still here?” What if that’s what being saved actually means here? Perhaps Jailer Jones was saying this: I can see that you do not fear being in prison, or what will happen to you next. I can see that you are compassionate, caring more about my well-being than your own safety. Clearly you have been saved from fear and from being self-centered. How can I be like you?

I recognize that it’s a bit of a stretch to get this out of Jailer Jones’ words. But is it any less a stretch to say that he was asking about the afterlife? Either way, you need to fill in the gaps of what “being saved” means. And I think my interpretation makes a whole lot more sense with the context of the story. And also with the context of our lives.

The two words “being saved” don’t mean anything by themselves. You have to finish the clause: being saved from what? “Jesus saves” doesn’t mean anything without finishing the clause: Jesus saves from what? And I just don’t buy that the primary thing Jesus saves us from is eternal damnation. That would mean that this life is meaningless, and the only point in living is to make sure that we get on the right side…Jesus’ side, so that we can be in the right place at the end. But that doesn’t mesh with the God I read about in the Bible. The God I see throughout scripture isn’t one who throws away this life, who views this life as some kind of “test” or something. The God I see is one who comes into this life, and lives with us. Who comes into our darkness, and shines light. Not just the promise of a future light if we believe the right thing, but light today, here and now. Sure, if you’re scared about your eternal destination, then Jesus can save you from that fear. But there’s a lot of other things Jesus can, and does, save us from.

I think in my case, one thing Jesus saves me from is being scared to talk about my mental illness. So many people have told me that I’m brave for sharing what I’ve shared on this blog. And it is scary. It’s scary because even with those affirmations (which I deeply appreciate), I don’t know how the next post will be taken. I don’t know if it’s okay to bare my soul this way. I don’t know whether it’s safe. And I never will. It’s not safe. But it’s okay, because I believe that God’s telling me the truth that I will be okay. I believe that God’s telling me the truth that I have a purpose. I believe that God’s telling me the truth that I’m not alone. Or at least I want to believe those things. And every time I press that “Publish” button, I am acting on that belief. Every time I can hit that button, it’s because I recognize that I’m saved, at least for that moment.

What’s God saving you from?

Snapshots of My Depression 1: “That’s a Lousy Trick to Play on a Manic Depressive”

This is the first in a series of posts I’m calling “Snapshots of my Depression.” These are memories of times in my life when my mental illness manifested itself in one way or another.

First off, I want to apologize to anyone with bipolar disorder. I know that “manic depressive” is an archaic and somewhat offensive term. I use this phrase throughout this post because that’s the phrase I used when this story takes place…the 1980’s, when I was a pre-teen. I hope its use here does not upset anyone. If it does, I apologize.

I was always the smart kid, the “whiz kid” in my elementary school. I took an IQ test when I was in first grade, and I’m told that my principal used to brag about my IQ, until my parents asked her to stop. I didn’t find out the results of that IQ test for many years, because my parents didn’t want me to know. I think they were concerned that I would become arrogant with that information, and they were most certainly right.Because I knew I was the smart kid. I knew I was special. And I liked it. I liked being the center of attention. I was already arrogant, obnoxious, self-centered enough even without knowing my IQ. I was a royal pain in the ass, to be honest.

I was also a moody kid. I had very few friends. You can understand why. I don’t know if I was really fun to be around. It’s hard to say. It was over thirty years ago, and I wasn’t keeping a diary or anything. And as I’ve proven before on this blog, my memory is not always the most reliable narrator. But I was definitely moody. And I definitely talked about killing myself from time to time when I was young. My parents told me they didn’t take it seriously; they thought I was just looking for attention. And in their defense, they were absolutely right. Really, they were. I never actually considered suicide at age ten, even if I did talk about it. (Now, age 17 is another story entirely, but that’s a story for another “Snapshot.”) At age ten? I was looking for attention. I craved attention, and I didn’t know the difference between looking for it in right or wrong ways.

And here’s something else I remember: I remember thinking I was manic-depressive. I don’t know where I heard that term. A book I read? Some TV show I watched? I don’t know…but somehow I got it in my head in elementary school that I was manic-depressive. Looking back, I can assure you that I have never had bipolar disorder. Depression, yes. But bipolar? Sheesh. Not even close. You know what it was? It was me trying to explain why sometimes I felt fine and happy, and other times sad. Why sometimes I would get really grumpy and angry with everything, and then be fine later. Which on one level is just being, oh, I don’t know, a kid. But I didn’t see it that way. I thought I was different. And talking about it as “manic depression” was a way to get attention. The one vivid memory I have of this whole “I’m manic-depressive” phase is this:

I am at summer camp. I’m ten or eleven, I guess. My group is on our “overnight”, the night when we pack up our stuff, take a big tarp, and hike a mile or two into the woods. Instead of sleeping in cabins like the other nights, tonight we all sleep under the stars. We cook our own food around a campfire that we set up. In a few years, I will view this as my favorite part of summer camp. But this year…this year it is bad. Because this year we are the recipients of a “bear raid.” We had settled into our sleeping bags, while our counselors were still at the campfire nearby. A few minutes later, we started hearing sounds in the woods, and our counselors told us to be quiet, because they thought it might be a bear. The noises got louder, as all the kids got more and more scared. Me? I got grumpy. I knew there was no bear. I knew it was really a group of older campers out in the woods, trying to scare us. I knew that our counselors were in on it. And I got grumpy. And I just lay there, not moving, not screaming, not anything. I just pretended I was asleep. Eventually, the older campers came and “attacked” us, running up to our tarp, to the sound of many screams. I still lay there, grumpy grumpy. Somebody stepped on my hair as they ran through. That really hurt. Grumpy grumpy. Finally, there was laughter. The “bear” was revealed as this other group. Our counselors fessed up. Counselors and campers laughed. I didn’t. I sat up and said, “That’s a lousy trick to play on a manic depressive.” And I put my shoes on, and stomped out of the tarp, and stewed at the campfire.

What the heck does “That’s a lousy trick to play on a manic depressive” even mean? I have no idea. I don’t think I had any idea then either. I think I was just grumpy grumpy about it, and I wanted to share my grumpy grumpy feeling in some way that would get people to pay attention to me. I don’t know. The most vivid part of that memory is that one line of dialogue. What it meant? Hard to say. But I wonder if it was the first inkling of what I’ve come to know as my depression. I wonder if the “voice” was already clearing its throat. I wonder if my serotonin levels were already drifting away from typical. I wonder if I was responding to something I just didn’t understand. I wonder if I just didn’t have the resources to deal with stressors that other kids did. The bear raid was a stressor. I didn’t deal with it well. Could depression be why?

Maybe. It’s hard to say. In retrospect, it’s crystal clear to me that I was not, and never have been, a “manic depressive.” But I wonder if this was an early sign that there was indeed something amiss. I don’t know.

But I’ll tell you one thing. I like the idea of calling my depression my “grumpy grumpy.” That’s just plain nice.

 

Mental Illness Happy Hour

I am so surprised and touched by the response I received to my last post, Where Have I Been? Thank you for telling me that it’s okay to share things like that. And thank you for telling me that it’s helpful to share things like that! I have some ideas of other things I’d like to share with you…stories and snapshots of my own mental illness over the years. I’m hopeful that parts of my story might be helpful to others living through theirs. I hope to have something ready for that by the end of this week.

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But in the meantime, I’d like to share a link with you today. I listen to a podcast called the Mental Illness Happy Hour. Comedian Paul Gilmartin interviews people with mental illness and/or addiction in their histories. It’s a brutally honest podcast, refreshingly honest. It’s amazing to hear people talk so honestly of the traumas, the negative thinking, the pain that they live with, and yet there is so much hope in the conversations.

One caveat about this podcast…the language can be very explicit, and sometimes rather vulgar. It may not be for everybody. It might not be a podcast you’d expect your pastor to recommend. Oh well. I think honesty and connection are more important than avoiding potty-mouth. Anyway, if you’d like to check it out, you can do so here: Mental Illness Happy Hour. Let me know if you do.

The People Jesus Prays For

This is an adapted form of a sermon I preached today, the Seventh Sunday of Easter. The gospel reading was John 17:20-26.

You may have heard all this before, everything I’m about to say. That’s the way it goes sometimes. These things get passed on and on. But I think that’s okay. I know I need a reminder all the time, a continual reminder of what Jesus is doing for us. So maybe we all do.

Those who were at Bible Study on Wednesday definitely heard some of this before. At Bible Study we looked at chapter fifteen of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Here’s what we talked about. Paul writes:

For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

We focused a lot on the first words of that verse: “For I handed on to you what I in turn had received.” We thought about the image of a relay race, how faith is passed on like a baton handed off in a relay race, how Paul handed this faith on to the Corinthians, just as this faith had been previously handed on to him. We talked about how this relay of faith is still going on, nearly two thousand years later, how the book of Acts tells us how the faith was passed on and on and on throughout the Roman world, and how the history of the church shows us that this faith was eventually passed on to people in Africa, and Asia, and Europe, and the Americas, and eventually, to you and to me. We talked about how the first apostles passed on their faith to someone else, and they passed it on to someone else, and so on and so on until it reached you and me. Someone passed the faith onto you. And you have passed the faith onto someone else. Or you will. Or both. That’s the way it works.

But 1 Corinthians is not one of our readings today. That’s not what this sermon is about. This sermon is about the gospel reading today, from the gospel according to John.

In this reading, Jesus is talking, and the apostles hear him talking. But he’s not actually talking to the apostles. He’s praying. He is praying for them. He is praying to his Father for them. But listen, he’s not just praying for them. He prays:

I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word.

He’s praying for his apostles, and also for all the people they will pass their faith onto. He’s praying for the people they will hand the baton to, the second generation of Christians. And I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that means he’s also praying for the third generation, and the fourth generation, and also for us. Let that sink in. Jesus is praying for us. I used to think that one definition of the church was “the people who pray to God.” And that’s not wrong. But it’s also true to say that the church is “the people for whom Jesus prays.” That’s who we are. We are the people Jesus is praying for.

So what does Jesus pray? Well, he’s not praying for us to be wealthy. Or even to be healthy. He’s not praying for us to have a beautiful building to worship in, or that we have the most exciting youth programs or the best organ music. Or for us to be happy and content. No, he prays this:

I ask this Father, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe.

Jesus prays for us that we may be one. Now, that doesn’t mean that we all think the same or act the same. There is room here for liberals and conservatives. There is room here for extroverts and introverts, busy doers and quiet pray-ers. There is room here for people whose faith is strong and deep, and people who are questioning, skeptical, confused. There is room here for people who are messed up in all sorts of ways, and for people who are unwelcome in all sorts of places. Jesus isn’t praying that we all be identical, or perfect. He prays that we may be one, the way that he and the Father are one. Jesus and the Father are one because they are in relationship with one another. Perfect relationship.

The mystery of the Holy Trinity can be confusing…we proclaim that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus is God and the Father is God and the Holy Spirit is God; but Jesus is not the Father, and neither of them is the Holy Spirit. It’s confusing and mysterious, and well beyond the scope of this sermon, but one thing we can say today is this: In God’s very nature, God is in relationship. God is relationship. The Son loves the Father and the Father loves the Son, and they both love the Holy Spirit. And so Jesus is praying for us that we might be one in the same way, that we might be in relationship with one another and with him.

Relationships are about trust and love. It is not always easy to trust or love one another. Jesus prays that we might do it. It’s not always easy to trust or love ourselves. Jesus prays that we might do it. It’s not always easy to trust or love God. Jesus prays that we might do it.

Jesus says:

I ask this Father, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe.

Let’s remind one another about this. Jesus is praying for you. Jesus is praying for us. Remind yourself of that. Remind each other of that. And tell your friends. Tell your family. Tell everyone who needs to hear it that Jesus is praying for us, and slowly, bit by bit, the world will believe.

 

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