Text: John 17:1-11
11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me that they may be one, even as we are one.
On the church sign out front I put these words last week: “Christ is our cornerstone – Blessed Memorial Day.” For we the church the freedoms we enjoy in this country have come at great expense for so many that have given their lives to protect our freedoms. It is right to remember and to honor those this Memorial Day at these National holidays.
As the church though, we stand on the Rock, who is the cornerstone of our faith Jesus Christ and his work; on him alone do we trust. It is my hope and prayer that all who today and in the future serve to defend the freedoms we enjoy know and receive the comfort that is Christ Jesus as savior and Lord.
Our freedom required cost and sacrifice. As we learned in our voter’s meeting last Sunday our own Skip Bushart’s, Fallen Heroes Memorial Foundation builds memorials around the state to honor those, like his son Damien who gave their life in service to our country - as their motto states: “Lest they be forgotten.”
In his High Priestly Prayer to the Father our Lord Jesus says:
17… “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.
The gift of eternal life is given, not earned, and while heroes in this life deserve to be remembered … you don’t have to be a hero to receive the gift.
We receive all sorts of things in this life that we don’t deserve. My parents and many of your parents sacrificed much to make sure that we had the very best they could give. We were fed and clothed, taught what was right and wrong and how to treat others. My parents made sure that I received an education, even though I might have wanted to skip school and play they knew this was important for me and would help me in the future.
At 48 when I went back to school to prepare for seminary I said to my dad when he asked me how my schooling was going, “It’s going well but all the other kids tell me their parents are paying for their schooling.”
My dad said, “Well that’s nice Russ … if you were still a kid I’d be paying too.
As Christians my parents knew something else that was good for me too and Jesus makes it clear in his prayer.
3 that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
It was important for my parents that I knew Christ and that he knew me. Why? Well Jesus says … this is eternal life … that we know the Father and Jesus who the Father has sent. So they brought me to the means that God gave and I was baptized and given new birth in baptism one month after being born. My parents knew this was good for me just as they knew that I needed their physical care around the clock too.
I didn’t know what I needed. But seeing children today that are newborns I understand now that when they’re hungry - they cry, when they need changed - they cry, when they need anything - they cry.
Maybe it is a sign of the death we are born into. If children were born and left to make their own way … without their parents care … they would die, so God in his mercy has given his means to his church and we as loving parents bring God’s mercy and forgiveness to those in need … from the youngest to the oldest.
3 And this is eternal life that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
As Jesus said last week in our Gospel, he would not leave us as orphans to care for ourselves but that the Holy Spirit, the comforter who he was sending from the Father would bring true comfort. This gift is given to you and me and all through word and sacrament and it brings real peace.
Peace though in our world is fleeting. The bombing at a pop concert this past week in England once again shows the decay and brokenness of this world. Death too comes to those young and old in this life and we know not the day or hour. We remember this weekend those who have given their lives defending our freedom and we remember the hope that is found only in the one who is the way the truth and the life – Jesus Christ – the only way to the Father.
It is comforting to know that in our text Jesus is praying for you and for me and for all far away born in and struggling with sin, death and devil.
9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.
The reality of life and death in war came to me in a real way at the start of the first Gulf War. My brother Tom, an Annapolis Naval Academy Grad had finished flight school, was on the US Ranger in the Persian Gulf, and was in the first flight wave sent in during Desert Storm. I remember praying at work for him and for all who served. Thankfully he survived and following a 30 year career retired as a Captain with distinction. He works today for Northrop Grumman on Long Island. In an interesting twist his EA6B Prowler that he flew for his entire military service is placed on permanent static display at the world headquarters. His company had no idea that the plane coming in was his but on the pilot cockpit it says Captain Tom Tack.
I am thankful for my brother’s service and for all who serve. I also in prayer lift up all who continue to serve that they remain safe but most importantly that they know Christ and receive the gift of eternal life in his name.
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.