Summary: A sermon I preached at a local village Anglican church during ’the week of prayer for christian unity’
Unity. John 17:20-26. St Mary¡¦s Parish Church 18.1.04
Pulpit swap as part of week of prayer for Christian Unity
Illustr: my father was an American GI in the Air Force stationed at Stansted Airport. Met my mum. Fell in love. Raised 5 kids- 3 born in USA 2 in UK when came to live here
Apparently- the US pilots loved flying over our land: irregular patch-work quilt of fields and fences. But one Summer evening a pilot came back and exclaimed in his irascible way: ¡§they¡¦ve taken the fences! I flew and they weren¡¦t there any more¡¨
- brit explained to him- ¡§oh no- it¡¦s harvest time. The crops have grown. The crops are bigger than the fences¡¨
Friends- we¡¦re growing up. We¡¦re maturing. Jesus¡¦ prayer is being answered. We¡¦re getting desperate.
- the harvest is more important than the fences¡K the things that divide us
JESUS¡¦ PRAYER ¡V for you
We¡¦re in the longest record of one of Jesus¡¦ prayers, here
Are you aware that Jesus prayed for You, here?
- and it¡¦s safe to assume that He is still praying these things for you, as our Lord ¡¥always lives to intercede for us¡¦ (heb 7:25)
Previously he has prayed for His disciples
- (and it¡¦s safe to assume that he prayed¡K prays the same thing for us)
- for their¡K your.. our blessing/perseverance
- for your protection. That you would be ¡¥kept safe¡¦. Not taken out of the world, but protected IN it
And there are a few things that He prays specifically for YOU. For us ¡¥who believe through the disciples¡¦ message (v20)
- that you would ¡¥make it¡¦ and end up with Him (v24)
- AND ¡§that all of them may be one¡¨
Gosh- this is obviously important to Jesus. Of all the things that He could pray- THIS is His priority
- He obviously also knows it is going to be an issue
o Was he right, or what?!
Jesus prays that we may be one. That all of us may be one.
a) as a church. With one another
There are many things that are important to me as someone trying to follow Jesus. Many things that are important to us as a church
- BUT ¡¥the greatest of these IS love¡¦
Jesus prays that we may be one with one another. A unity. A community, even
- It¡¦s so great that you come here. Thriving congregation. Good things happening
o But are you ONE with other people. Do they miss you when you¡¦re not here. Do you miss them. Do you persevere through all kinds of differences- because you are one?
THAT¡¦S the work of God
PHP 2:1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
b) As THE church.
But it¡¦s not just Jesus¡¦ prayer and priority that this should happen here. Between one-another
- he prays that we may be united as THE church
o and JESUS¡¦ prayers are answered!
Think about it- how many churches does Jesus have? How many brides does He love? How many brides is He coming back for?
he only sees ONE church. He gave himself for one church. He prays for one church. He is coming back for ONE church
- and we will be ONE church¡K in glory¡K heaven
o no separate corners
- going to be together¡K living together, then¡K for eternity
o so had better start now!
See¡K speak the bets of each other:
Wesley and Whitfield eventually became divided over theology (Calvinistic and Armenian opinions). On Whitfield’s death a reporter, trying to take advantage of the situation and exacerbate differences, asked Wesley in an unguarded moment "Do you think you’ll see Whitfield in heaven?" Wesley replied "oh no.... he will be too close to the throne of glory for the likes of me to see!"
I understand why we have denominations- and sometimes their forming has been necessary
- Oliver: I¡¦d like one of those pets like in 101 denominations
- but they are not God¡¦s best¡K His will¡K the answer to this prayer
- Adrian Plass: Anagram of ¡¥Not made in Sion¡¦
And, thank the Lord- these days the barriers are coming down!
- as our urgency for the harvest grows
- as new people come in.
- many, many people
- don¡¦t call themselves a Baptist- but ¡¥a Christian who worships in a Baptist church¡¦