Sermon text: John 17: 1-11
We live in an age of information, a time when information comes to us rapidly through all of the different media available to us. We see and hear words everywhere: the news, social media, magazines, newspapers, radio, podcasts, online publications, government press releases, budding Lutheran televangelists. These words surround us.
In recent years, I’d say within the last decade, it feels like many of these word sources have all become slanted, or perhaps our perception has. It’s not just the news itself, but words of complaint, mis-information, self-justification, and accusation. Because of our country’s polarization we no longer trust our institutions, our leaders, and the information they produce. In this environment we all dig in, take sides based on our intuitions, affiliations, and whatever message we find most agreeable.
It’s like every issue in the public eye has become the incredible, edible egg. The poor egg has had a rollercoaster of an existence over the last several decades. It’s been glorified as a superfood packed with vital nutrients, a star player in your balanced breakfast. It’s been demonized as the harbinger of heart disease, a high cholesterol food that will harden your arteries and start the clock on ticking time bomb. As a person with a family history of heart disease I would really like to know which of these words about the egg is true, and I suspect that it is somewhere in the middle.
The same is true with most of the information we receive about COVID-19. We have predictably polarized our understanding of a virus. There is contradictory information our there that we are trying to navigate. There’s medical information from the Center of Disease Control that changes rapidly as we understand more about the disease, and then there’s the rest of the world trying to spin what all this information means for our daily lives.
It’s exhausting. And like the incredible, edible egg, I suspect the real truth resides somewhere in the middle.
It’s in this moment of exhaustion, in these times of wading through the sludge of polarized and misinformed reports, this time of wrestling about what is right and safe, that I give thanks for the true, unimpeachable word that God has given to us.
In John’s Gospel Jesus is the logos, the Word, and one of his tasks was to bring God’s word and message to the people. As we hear in his prayer, “For the words that you gave me I have given to them and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you.”
How refreshing is it to have a word that can be trusted? To have a word that brings restoration, support, and strength? This word from Jesus establishes us. It gives us new life.
Jesus prays, “Protect them in your name, so that they may be one, as we are one.”
Right now, we are struggling as the church because we have not been able to meet together as one. It is the one lament I hear again and again. It is the lament I utter every week when we record these services instead of gathering together. But even as we worship as a church spread out in our homes, participating in worship in our pajamas with breakfast in front of us, God still makes us one through the word. Jesus unites us with his promise.
Every week in this Easter season we have celebrated a Thanksgiving for Baptism. These words remind us of God’s never-failing care for his people over the course of history and that by water and the word we have been folded into that story, united in the eternal promise of God’s care for us.
So much of our life as the church has been stripped away during this pandemic, but this word will never be taken from us. In the Word we are one, just as Jesus and God are one.
With that in mind, I invite you to make use of the unifying word as all the other words crowd around us in a great cacophony. May you complete this period of social distancing with time spent digging into scripture and immersing yourself in prayer. Feed yourself with the word, for that is what sustains us as God people. In that word we will be one. AMEN