Episcopal Church in Minnesota

Environmental Stewardship Commission
Lectionary Reflection
Year A, Easter 7, Gospel Lesson

John 17: 1-11

Jesus looked up to heaven and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

"I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.  And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one."

John 17: 1-11
by John Gibbs, Ph D

“Becoming People Who Are Safe for the World” (Witnessing to God’s Rule in the World)

Somehow I had not noticed before preparing for this writing that Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer in John 17 began in so vast a context as: “heaven” (v. 1), “all people” (v. 2), “earth” (v. 4), “before the world began” (v. 5). Jesus’ prayer for the Church begins with conscious reference to the context of the cosmos.

The gospel text for today concludes with the famous prayer for the unity of the Church: “Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.” See the pithy comments about the Fourth Gospel by Donald G. Miller in The Oxford Annotated NRSV (NY: Oxford, 1994, which can hardly be improved upon. As Miller observes, Jesus prays not only for a unity in the Church that reflects the unity within triune God, but also for the disciples’ “joy” (v. 13), their victory over the “evil one” (v. 15), and their fulfilling the mission of representing Christ to “the world” (vv. 16-19). Jesus does not directly address the relation of Church to Creation.

A Church so conceived and sustained, however, could hardly pose any threat to the creation. As those who are “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16), the Church is realistic about the presence of evil in the world. Not only does such a Church pray to be protected from that evil. She also does what she can to protect “the least of these” and all creatures from the destruction that evil brings.

To Reflections on other Readings for this Sunday:
Old Testament
Ezekiel 39:21-29
Psalm 68 or
Psalm  47
New Testament
1 Peter 4:12-19 or 
Acts 1:(1-7)8-14
John 17:1-11
this page

John Gibbs, PhD, a retired theologian, attends Trinity Episcopal Church, Park Rapids, MN.   He originally wrote this reflection in 2002.  He and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:
c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the web site.

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