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Cruciform Exaltation

7 Easter 2017

I Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11; John 17:1-11

Beloved Jesus you now are lifted high, exalted to draw us all to your love.  You are the crucified One who has led us in triumph from the fear which has kept us from following you.  May we now know you more fully as you have called us to be guests at your table.  Amen.

The title of the Confirmation Class we have here is “Confirm Not Conform”.  We are not to conform to the desires of the world any more than we try to conform to fitting into clothes too big or too small.  Jesus prays that we would be one not that we would conform to a certain belief.  He prays not for orthodoxy (right beliefs) but orthopraxis (right practice).  And his own orthopraxis was his glory which ultimately was the cross.

Hard for us to accept; but he knew unless the shame of his cross there would be no glory to follow.  Sometimes glory entails suffering and this is the whole of John’s Gospel.

We might even say Jesus lived a theology of hopelessness.  Hopeless to change the power struggles, hopeless to change the minds of his followers, hopeless to change the world.  Yet Jesus is far from hopeless in his prayer for his disciples.  He has come to the place of letting go; this is his final prayer before his cross.  And as we come to the final feast day in this season of Resurrection his prayer is for us, too.  And as he begins his journey toward his final glorification he prays not just for oneness but for his disciples from then until the end of the world.  Oneness as found only in the love of God.  He is the one who has fully emptied himself only to be filled with divine love which he gives away time and again.

The story is told of a young man living in Africa by the name of Benyamen Yusef.

He was raised in a Muslim family but upon hearing of the love of Jesus chose to become a Christian.  When he told his family of his life change they threw him out of his home telling him never to return.  Since he had no transportation he walked to the coast looking for a better life.  He was found by some local guards who put him to work as their prisoner.  Every night one of the guards would beat Benyamen.  One night a guard came to his cell asking him why he did not hate them all.  This young man told this guard of the love of Jesus that he sought to exemplify, so he did not hate but prayed for them.  The guard returned within a few days stating he would help Benyamen to escape.   And escape he did, coming to America to earn a PhD, eventually returning to Africa to tell of his life and the love of Jesus.  Living for Jesus is not always so easy.

Loving like Jesus is not always what we choose.  One denomination argues with other another about what prayers to pray; there are arguments about who can be ordained;

who is a ‘real’ Christian.  And Jesus’ prayer is left in the dust to disintegrate into the background of our lives.  Jesus not only prayed we would be one he prayer we would be one as he and his Father are one!  Jesus prays into the mystery of his oneness

with his God even as he prepares himself for his ultimate sacrifice.  Jesus dances with his Father as one even as they are two.  And Jesus wants us to do the same as we dance as we sing with many bodies with many voices.  And we will find great delight in that our own longings and desires will fall under the shadow of the cross.  This day is a day of looking forward and looking back.  We look forward to the coming of Jesus’ Spirit

even as we look back at his prayer for us all.

This day is a day of celebration

a day to remember both crucifixion and exaltation.

Alleluia Christ is Risen!

The Lord is Risen Indeed!  Alleluia!  Amen.