In this famous icon, the Trinity demonstrates humanity’s calling to participate in God’s life. An empty space is set with the bread and the cup, Communion. That etched square underneath has been said to be a place for a mirror so that the observer can see themselves at the table, too.
Today’s Bible reading
13-19 Now I’m returning to you.
I’m saying these things in the world’s hearing
So my people can experience
My joy completed in them.
I gave them your word;
The godless world hated them because of it,
Because they didn’t join the world’s ways,
Just as I didn’t join the world’s ways.
I’m not asking that you take them out of the world
But that you guard them from the Evil One.
They are no more defined by the world
Than I am defined by the world.
Make them holy—consecrated—with the truth;
Your word is consecrating truth.
In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world,
I give them a mission in the world.
I’m consecrating myself for their sakes
So they’ll be truth-consecrated in their mission.
20-23 I’m praying not only for them
But also for those who will believe in me
Because of them and their witness about me.
The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me.
Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you’ve sent me and loved them
In the same way you’ve loved me. — John 17:13-23 (The Message)
More thoughts for meditation
Jesus prays over and over “just as it was with you and I, so be it also for me and them.” God’s transforming life is made known in Jesus. Both for the individual who submits her life to him and for all of creation who is led by his way of self-giving, loving leadership. Jesus’ followers are invited into the next era of God’s plan to continue including everybody who is willing into the reconciled creation.
“In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world,
I give them a mission in the world.”
And there are many who are willing to be included. There are many people who recognize the world’s obsession with power-over politics and manipulation-driven relationships and want a different way to relate. Many times all they need is a couple of follow up invitations (because life is busy, right?).
That mission of inclusion began in Genesis 1, when the Creator set out to cultivate a world characterized by beauty, order, and life. It is show in its fullest iteration at the end of John’s Gospel, here, where we see Jesus pray us into a new way to participate. As the story from Genesis to John makes clear, God’s “mission” is as much about pushing back on things in the world which are set against God’s creation as it is about ushering in something brand new. Much of the time, the Lord’s pushing and ushering are the same act.
Suggestions for action
Our response to the Lord’s prayer for us could take multiple expressions. Consider how Jesus identifies the difference between his way of life and the “world’s” way. Those who choose to follow Jesus are effectively choosing to operate under a different set of expectations, ones ultimately rooted in love. Jesus prays for the perseverance of his followers and for their unity in vision, that we would “be mature in…oneness” and we would receive the mission which Jesus himself had received.
There are many others who will want to join in, too. Consider who is in your network — people you see fairly often. Is there a justice-driven event the church is hosting soon? How about a place where the church will be gathering to deepen their relationships? Who can you invite, who may not have known about these opportunities previously, who may be interested in either of those two things?