Here is the 3rd of the Friday Night in the Garden Vespers series.
My first thoughts when I read the Scripture reading for this evening was the comment made by Jake and Elwood Blues in the movie “The Blues Brothers” that they were on a mission from God. As we read today’s scripture, we hear Jesus speaking of the Holy Spirit watching over His disciples and followers and those who will follow them.
In the verses before this prayer, Jesus has spoken of the mission and the sanctification of his followers. He is confident that they will spread the Gospel and His prayer is for all those, present and future, who believe. It is interesting to note that He is also praying for the unity of the believers, for it will be this unity that will show those who hear the message of its validity. Jesus’ prayer is a rebuke of the groundless and often bitter divisions between believers.
But the church today has taken this unity to the extreme. Instead of being the church for all believers, it is the church for only selected believers. When a church decides that it is more important to take care of what is in the present or the past, it has no vision for the future. Instead of the mission being the spread of the Gospel, the mission has become one of using the Gospel to decide who may become part of the church.
Jesus, in His prayer, speaks of the Father dwelling in the Son and the Son dwelling in those who believe in the Son. Because the latter is a reality the former can take place as well. And in this unity of the believers, the mission of the church can be completed successfully. For some the mission of the church is to tell the people about the Gospel but the Gospel has no meaning if it is not lived in the words and deeds of those who tell the message. When we look at this garden, we are reminded of the efforts that have gone into and continue to go into its care and upkeep. So too is the mission of the Gospel not completed unless it is taught and explained; you cannot accept the Gospel message unless you know what it is and it has no meaning if those who speak and teach the Gospel message also live the Gospel message.
The prophetic tradition of the Bible speaks in both broad and narrow terms. It broadly condemns the oppression of the poor and the needy, and it expresses outrage at the abuse of the specific individuals. The Gospel message speaks of bringing healing to the sick and invalid, of sight to the blind, of sounds to the deaf, and voice to those who cannot speak physically or through society. We are asked to continue this message and this tradition; we are on a mission from God.