Chris Heavner, Clemson, SC

Warm-up Question

  • What makes you and your buddies, buddies?  What unites you or holds you together?
  • Do you have a symbol for your group – a style of clothes or type of hats?

Being (Not) One

I was officiating at the wedding of two of our Clemson University alumni.  Their friends stood up to make remarks – all of which were glowing and emotional.  Some of these had gone to Clemson, so they included a “Go Tigers!” in their comments.  High school friends started noting their graduations from other colleges.  Then there was the admission from one that she attended a college in the SEC Conference rather than the ACC.  (College football rivalries are important in the South.)

These exchanges were good natured and humorous; some such exchanges are not.  College football is but one place where division and mistrust and hatred boil over into something ugly.  Our country seems to be in a phase were name-calling and belittling have ceased to be taboo.

This is surely a place where the followers of Jesus need to make known a better way.  In the midst of talk which sets one against another, Christians need to share our story and affirm our convictions.  The followers of Jesus have had differences of opinion, but we have a message of unity beyond our personal preferences and styles.

Discussion Questions

  • Name the five persons with whom you have the strongest bond?  What brings you together?
  • Identify at least two topics or ways of doing stuff which is different among your closest friends.
  • Have you ever had to set aside part of who you are for the sake of someone you wanted as a friend?  What benefit did you experience by not allowing that one thing to push you apart?
  • Do you think Jesus’ followers are “one”?
  • What can you do (what can your group do) to best reflect the oneness we have as a result of Jesus’ ministry and his teachings?

Seventh Sunday of Easter

Acts 16:16-34

Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21

John 17:20-26

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

These verses are the closing words of Jesus’ “Farewell Discourse.”  Starting at 13:1, Jesus speaks words to his followers of how they are to understand his ministry and carry on with his mission.  It is clear that being “one” is important to him.

When Jesus speaks of being one with the Father (John 10:30), he means they are of the same nature.  They are one in the way that your foot and your hand are one.  They cannot be separated!  This is the oneness he wants his followers to have.

As is true for the times in which we live, the times in which Jesus lived were full of conflict and contentious parties.  Jesus understood the powerful blessing known as the simple gift of being in sync with those around us.  

To be “one” means we are so firmly connected that we can even risk the challenging work of honest speech.  The hand can expose the splinter in the heel of the foot (which will cause the foot great pain) without the foot lashing out –  “We are no longer connected!”

To be “one” means we know our lives and our futures are connected and so we will act in a way which ensures both of us will experience the fullness God hopes for us.  This is the prayer which Jesus offers.

We are one, with the Christians in Sri Lanka gunned down during Sunday worship.  We are one, with the inhabitants of Marshall Islands whose nation is being lost due to global warming.  We are one, with refugees caught in the cross fire of drugs and gangs. We are one.  Jesus said it was so.  And we will live as one, for the wellbeing of all the creation.

Discussion Questions

  • When have you witnessed persons acting as “one”?
  • What changes in behavior are likely to happen when we acknowledge the oneness of all God’s children?
  • Do you think Jesus was limiting our “oneness” to those who belong to our congregation?  To our denomination?  To Protestants?  To Christians?

Activity Suggestions

  • Identify persons in your community (maybe even your youth group) with whom you have had differences.  Speak to them of the oneness you share, regardless of what might seem to separate you.
  • Make a list of those with whom you are one, and a list of those with whom you wish to strengthen an awareness of oneness.  Pledge to pray the names of these persons each day for the next two weeks.
  • Watch one of many videos in which refugees share their stories.  Here is one

Closing Prayer

Heavenly Father, you have made us one through the words and work of your Beloved Son.  Living as one can be a challenge; living as one is a tremendous opportunity.  With your grace, support us in our efforts to bring to fullness that which you have given to us.  Help to be one, with all your children and with each of our neighbors.  Amen.