I’m praying not only for them But also for those who will believe in me Because of them and their witness about me. The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind – Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, So they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. The same glory you gave me, I gave them, So they’ll be as unified and together as we are I in them and you in me. Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, And give the godless world evidence That you’ve sent me and loved them In the same way you’ve loved me. Father, I want those you gave me To be with me, right where I am, So they can see my glory, the splendor you gave me, Having loved me Long before there ever was a world. Righteous Father, the world has never known you, But I have known you, and these disciples know That you sent me on this mission. I have made your very being known to them – Who you are and what you do – And continue to make it known, So that your love for me Might be in them Exactly as I am in them. (John 17: 20-26 The Message Version)
Do you hear the heartbeat of love longing for connection? Does it resonate with you in the depths of your being? Does it stir a longing for something you know is deeply right , do you dare to reach out for it? Jesus most asked question was “what do you want me to do for you?”
As I read the Gospel passage I am deeply struck by the longing in the heart of Jesus, a longing for connection not only with God who he addresses as Father, but with his followers throughout every age, a longing to be connected intimately and deeply and in love. This is the heartbeat of God.
Maybe being connected, intimately connected is not only our deepest desire, but also our deepest truth, we were made for this connection, for we are all made in the image of God, the divine spark is at work and alive within us. Maybe in the end, we are all simply trying to find our way home, and that home is God. One of my favourite parables is “The Lost Son”, or “The Prodigal Son” which would lead me to another blog post because I love the fact that prodigal could be read as recklessly generous, but I digress…The lost son separates himself from his family and travels to a far country where he lives a life of excess until he is completely spent in every way and abandoned by his false friends ends up destitute, ( you probably know the story well, if not you can find it here )
In his destitution and stripped of connections he listens at last to his inner voice, Jesus tells us “he comes to himself/ his senses”, he knows and connects with a homesickness deep within, and decides at that point to return to his home. He has yet to have a deeper truth revealed to him, for at home there was a loving and holy welcome waiting, not only was he longing for home, but home was longing for him, incomplete without him. Just ponder that for a moment, without you, the God of love who longs to include all, is incomplete, and I am incomplete without you, and you without me…. the call to be one runs deep… and it flows when we find it in and through the whole of creation… we are one!
In the words of Queen (1):
One man, one goal
Ha, one mission
One heart, one soul
Just one solution
One flash of light
Yeah, one god, one vision
One flesh, one bone, one true religion
One voice, one hope, one real decision…
can you hear the longing?
I had a dream when I was young, a dream of sweet illusion, a glimpse of hope and unity, and visions of one sweet union…. ( Queen : One Vision 1985)
Is it a longing in you? I know that within me there is a deep longing, a hunger for belonging that is expressed in so many ways, and sometimes I connect deeply to it and it surprises, delights and terrifies me with equal measure, because it opens me to a fullness of love that is overwhelming.
Then, I have to reflect that in this life sometimes in an effort to belong we create boundaries and barriers that exclude rather than include, we create rules for belonging that demand that we fit, demand that others fit, to belong we say, you must believe the right things, sign up for the cause and behave how we do!
This was not the way of Jesus, his way was the way of inclusion, the way of grace and the way of love, his expressed longing for intimacy and for oneness was a part of his message, his stance was that everyone belongs, and only by excluding yourself were you out. He challenged fiercely the religious elite who were experts and excluding people, and purveyors of guilt and shame in the name of God.
I wonder if what we need to rediscover is what we mean when we say “For God so loved the world” ( John 3: 16), to hear the inclusiveness of it, not just humankind, but the whole of creation, all and everything, which throws into shadow an often encouraged practice of substituting your name for world in order to understand how much God loves you. Western individualism is toxic! God loves, God loves all, God loves everything, and just as the lost sons home was incomplete without him so God is incomplete without us because s/he has chosen to be connected to us and placed a divine spark that cries out for union within us, we find our completeness not only in Christ but also in and through one another.
When fully awake, to love (God) and fully alive, this longing for contentedness should drive me to live openly and generously, and it is the call and commission of Christ who calls us to be the God colours and God flavours in the world, to connect divine spark to divine spark until a flame of love is fanned and burning brightly. When we do we will live differently, as friends with one another and with all of creation, no boundaries, no barriers of creed, race, class, race, sexuality, gender, for all are one. Hills and rocks, rivers, sea and sky come alive, and somehow even in creation we are one.
So how do we break free from our boxes, and particularly in the Western world away from the individualism that drives consumerism and engenders isolation? Perhaps we need to be brave enough to name our condition and connect with our longings, naming the homesickness for what it is, facing it, and the pain of it, for it will show us our brokenness, but it is the way to healing.
I can name it, I am homesick for love, the wonder and the mystery is that love, that is God in triune ( creator , son and spirit) relationship, is homesick for me, and you, and you, and you and you….. and all, and everything
Christena Cleveland (2) says: The primary problem is that our identities are too small. We tend to rely most on our smaller, cultural identities and ignore our larger, common identity as members of the body of Christ. . . . Indeed, adopting a common identity is the key to tearing down cultural divisions and working toward reconciliation.
Can it be, that even in a far country, yet I am home because I am awakening to loves call to oneness…
A prayer of longing:
May we be one, as you are one,
connected in loves divine flow,
life to life, heart to heart,
skin to skin and deeper than skin,
closer than breath, knowing and known.
May we be one, as you are one,
loves fullest expression, delighting in everything… Amen
- Queen- British rock band formed 1970
- Christena Cleveland, Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart (InterVarsity Press: 2013), 177-178.