June – Being one with other followers of Jesus
2 June • John 17:20-26
Being ‘one’ is often praised and frequently misunderstood. It gets confused with unanimity or conformity.
Jesus prays that those who believe might be one. He references the one-ness he shares with his Father. This is a oneness of purpose and desire that never impugns the identity or integrity of either the Father or the Son. Both persons are free to do as they desire because their oneness is at the depth of desire. The Son desires to bring glory to the Father. The Father desires to glorify the Son.
We need to be dislodged from the centre of our own universe to be in a position to appreciate this level of oneness. It is the result of a thorough going desire for that which is eternally good for all – not simply immediately beneficial for a select few.
People generally default to self-interest. Community too easily devolves into sectarian divisions. There is an ongoing need of a model for how to live into eternal life. This is what following Jesus is all about!
What is important to hold to, and what is important to let go of, in order to be one with other followers of Jesus?
9 June • Pentecost • John 14:8-17
Truth is tricky. Most claim interest in truth… within reason. We welcome truth when it serves our purpose. We easily ‘reframe the data’ when truth threatens to expose us.
Living and speaking the truth (in love) paradoxically ended with Jesus being rejected by everyone and expelled by his community. Truth is a two edged sword.
Willingness to do as Jesus directs (and modelled for us) enables us to be open to truth. The world cannot receive or see this truth because it is simply too confronting. Our survival instinct reframes the meaning of the things we find overwhelming or unacceptable about ourselves and our world. We avoid unpalatable truth and even hide truth from ourselves!
The Spirit of Truth continues to make more truth apparent… about us and our universe. Our capacity to do greater things increases as we welcome and engage more truth.
Where/when/how are you confronted by truth you would rather not be aware of? What have you done in response to your new awareness?
16 June • Trinity • John 16:12-15
The Trinity is complex and has no adequate analogue in creation. We catch hints/glimpses of the dynamic within The Trinity when we experience healthy, close relationships. But the depth of the shared sense of purpose and direction enjoyed by the three persons of The Trinity is nowhere fully replicated.
The Spirit of Truth has no independent agenda. The Spirit continues the work begun at creation and in the calling of Abraham. It is the same Spirit that spoke as the voice of the Father through the prophets. The same Spirit guided the Son in his life and ministry.
Today the same Spirit of Truth continues to further explicate the meaning and significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Spirit progressively discloses all that the Christ means to us – things hidden from the foundations of the world – ‘hidden’ not because they were unseeable, but because we have refused to see them!
In what ways and by what means can we enhance our capacity to bear the things the Spirit of Truth wants to say to us?
23 June • UCA Anniversary • John 15:1-8
It is good to be reminded the branch is not responsible for generating the fruit. The branch functions as a conduit for the goodness that issues in fruit. If, for whatever reason, the goodness stops flowing (evinced by the lack of resultant fruit), the vinedresser unsentimentally removes that branch so that it not waste resources. We have much to learn from this!
The fruitful branches receive less severe and more precise pruning – getting rid of the unfruitful bits on each branch! This is not agrarian capitalism. This is about being focused on divine purpose. This vine exists to bear fruit. Anything other is missing the point (one of the root ideas of the notion of sin).
In kingdom terms, what do you regard to be the more fruitful and less fruitful aspects of your life?
30 June • Luke 9:51-62
Discipleship is demanding. Both in the doing and in the working out what to do. We want to follow Jesus. Yet, we cling to familiarity and react reflexively.
Is it not natural to want a place to call our home? Are we not right to attend respectfully to our parents? What is the problem with enjoying a good send off?
Jesus’ responses indicate no interest in retribution. Neither is he about making circumstances comfortable for himself. Jesus sees through noble excuses. He is interested in what we genuinely desire.
What do your reactions and excuses in response to the call of Christ reveal about your true desires? How do your desires shift?
Rev. David Gore is Minister at MustardSeed Uniting Ultimo, Chaplain at UTS and Chaplain at Wesley College USyd.