I want to start today by praying for our schools. For our students, teachers, staff, and administrators.
We’re putting together a cycle of prayer that includes all the schools in Keller and Southlake ISDs. And I’ve got a piece of paper back in the back where I want you to write down any school that you’re connected to. Maybe you attend there? Maybe you work there? Maybe someone you love attends there? Tell us, and we’ll add them to the list.
And we’re going to add those schools to our Prayers of the People each and every week.
So let’s start right now. Let us name before God those schools…those teachers…those students…for whom we pray…
O Eternal God, bless all schools, colleges, and universities, that they may be lively centers for sound learning, new discovery, and the pursuit of wisdom; and grant that those who teach and those who learn may find you to be the source of all truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Work hard. Be kind. I love you.
That’s what I say to the boys every morning when I give them their daily high five as they leave for school.
That’s what we do for people we love. We give parting words of encouragement and instruction when we’re leaving. You’ve probably shared similar words, and you;ve probably heard similar words from others.
It would make sense if Jesus did that for his disciples. Our Gospel today is from the night of the last supper. It’s among the last moments Jesus has with his friends. He knows the end is approaching.
But Jesus doesn’t give any last-minute encouragement or instructions.
Instead, he prays.
He prays for his disciples. He prays for us.
He prays that we would all become one as he and the Father are one.
If Jesus is praying for our oneness then he is also recognizing and rejecting our divisions.
We live in a world full of divisions. You name it, we find a way to divide it up.
But for every division we establish there is a human being on the other side.
Ultimately, divisions aren’t about issues. They’re about real people, with real names, and real lives, and real joys, and real sorrows, and real concerns, and real needs.
Just like us.
I think it’s easy to ignore this. Because it’s easier to deal with an issue than it is to interact with a person.
As followers of Jesus, we don’t stand on issues.
We walk with people.
We pray for people.
I want you to think of someone driving you crazy. Think of someone you can’t stand. Think of someone that you just don’t understand.
Pray for them.
Pray that they would know God’s love.
And pray for yourself. That you can see that person as God sees them. That you can love them.
Those prayers are hard. Perhaps especially this week.
Because this has been a hard week.
And this has been a hard worship service. Sometimes we need that.
We started today in lament. A passionate expression of grief or sorrow.
Scripture is full of lament. Scripture is full of anger and frustration and crying out to God.
How long, oh Lord!
Take a look at the litany we prayed this morning. That first one we prayed for…Wedgwood Baptist Church? Those were my friends. Those were people I did ministry with. And that was 23 years ago.
How long, oh Lord!
Then look on page 5…you’ll see Virginia Beach.
Every Sunday when I preach, I look back to see what I said last time the scripture came up. And you know what I saw when I looked back at this week in 2019?
I saw that it was a few days after that shooting in Virginia Beach.
How long, oh Lord!
We lament. We yell. We grieve.
But we don’t grieve as the world grieves. We don’t grieve as people who have no hope.
Even in the midst of weeks like this…. Even in the midst of heartache like this…
We have Easter hope.
There’s a tradition in some churches to read John Chrysostom’s Easter homily each year. St. Chrysostom was a fourth century priest who is one of the greatest preachers the church has ever known.
His Easter homily has probably been preached more than any other sermon in history. The whole thing is beautiful and powerful.
I want to end this sermon with the hope that it proclaims.
On this final Sunday of Easter I want to remind us all of the hope that the resurrection proclaims…
This is the closing of Chrysostom’s sermon. Listen to these words…
“Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.
Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hell, where is thy victory?
Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
has become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!