This week’s Thursday’s Thought for Sunday’s Service is based upon John 17:20-21:
““My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20–21, NIV)
On this day when testimony in Washington DC is dominating national headlines, we are once again subject to powerful argument regarding a continuing captivating narrative. It leads me to wonder about how political speech affects our national unity. Despite any admitted bias before turning on and tuning in, do we not also think of ourselves as considerate, understanding, and courageous people who are not so easily persuaded one way or the other? Are we not best characterized by thoughtful, sober, balanced thinking… at least trying to remain somewhat neutral while grappling with important issues?
Being reminded of strength in unity, revealed by Jesus’ prayer, it seems to me that our responsibility in remaining together is not just about listening to and being persuaded by advocates offering full throated argument to highlight one side of a political issue or another. Although developing national unity certainly does involve encouraging and buttressing a base of political support in dynamic and ever-changing ways, which is sometimes in tension with other political points of view, what’s key for the church is how Jesus connects with us along similar, spiritual lines. As Christians, the strength of the church comes from spiritual unity. In this, we draw strength from the relationship between God the Son and God the Father, and then between God the Spirit and us, and then, between one another within the Church community. Within the diversity of church life, we also see that spiritual unity is another kind of key, different from the one which unlocks political success. It rather opens a door to reveal the witness and mission of spreading the Gospel of God’s love and salvation for all.
As we grapple with political variety,
Jesus prays with sacred, spiritual sobriety.
Unity, he says, is more than political speech and persuasion,
rather relies on a different kind of outlook, approach, equation.
Within God’s Triune nature there is a strengthening, unifying connection,
it helps overcome differences, and moves us in a positive direction.
Pastor Rich Wagner