(A prayer in response to John 17)
You prayed your heart that last night,
surrounded by eleven men
who listened, and took note.
And after you had left
(having suffered, died and risen),
John remembered, wrote it down.
For me. For us. For generations still to come.
We need to know what yearning
you expressed for health and harmony:
that we would live in unity: be one.
And it’s the hardest race we’ve ever run.
Most of us have opted out
to run on our own paths, alone.
Some teammates seem so distant,
others’ tongues keep lashing out
with hurtful words, insinuation,
wounding those who pass too close
or whip on by, or stumble in the dark.
We’ve lost the goal! We do not run
to claim a prize for personal renown;
we run to honor you! If we could come
to understanding, and cheer each other on,
we’d make it home, together,
and be welcomed by your smile
at how we have obeyed you, being one.
No, it is not easy. Jesus never said that it would be. In fact, he knew that we would need the Father’s protection in order to ever attain that unity (John 17:11). So why are we so divided? All I know is that it is up to each of us to do what we can in our community to increase our unity and become the picture of oneness that Jesus prayed that we would be (John 17:20-23).
It’s a very hard race as we press on to the finish line, especially in these days of so much political and social division. We need to find ways to understand and respect each other. Forgiving the one who hurt me, asking forgiveness of the one I have hurt, rebuking lovingly the one who leaves the path and not rebuking with anger, encouraging the weak one to find strength in God himself while I do what I can to support them – these are all commands I must follow if I want to conform to the character of Jesus rather than to the patterns of this world.
In fact, this may be the hardest race we’ve ever run. Let’s do all we can to run as a team, to be one!