Jesus gets to say his goodbyes twice. No doubt when Jesus ascends back to heaven, the disciples go back to what he said during his “last” supper, and here we are, chronologically confused, but in the appropriate spirit of goodbye in John 17:20-26.
This is the last instructions of someone who is no longer with us, and Jesus expresses what so many people express: may the love that you put in me be in them. Its a review of the the “new commandment,” a rehash of what Jesus Christ wants us to know.
It reminds me of Queer Eye episode (Season 2, ep. 6)where a mother dies leaving behind 2 young boys. The mother leaves a bunch of notes that end with “P.S. Be nice to your brother.” It’s such a poignant message, they eventually have transcribed onto their toy box in her handwriting. How can something so sad be so beautiful?
It reminds me of my grandmother, who felt like she didn’t get any last words from grandfather who collapsed and died his 3rd day back home from the hospital– until they found the present he had hidden from her for her next birthday “happiness is being married to your best friend.”
Last words are so sad and poignant, and yet beautiful. We celebrate the last moments of Jesus’s life, at least once a month. We remember that this time together is beautiful. We share food with one another and say “remember when Jesus said…”
Remember when Jesus said he loved us.
Remember when Jesus said we can love one another.
Remember when Jesus said whenever we sit together, he’ll be present?
Remember when Jesus said that he was here for us? Remember when Jesus said he did it all for us?
Loving one another can feel so difficult. It is the hard work of relationship, it’s there reality of putting down other things and bringing ourselves to the table, to be truly present, to listen to another person, to deal with one another’s imperfections and annoyingness. It’s also as easy as taking a meal together, spending time together. Sitting with those who are sitting, crying with those who cry, laughing with those who laugh and telling stories. Telling stories of someone we love is holy. And it doesn’t matter if that person is with us, or not, the sharing of the love of this person is holy. This is what make funerals so sacred.
Maybe its not so hard then to believe that when Jesus died, we died a little bit.
Maybe its not so hard to believe that when Jesus loves, we love. We have that capability, because with God we are in a relationship that feeds and nourishes. us.
What would our last words be?
How can we love one another today?
Where are you this week? Are you exploring baptism and conversion with Acts 16, proclaiming the greatness of God in Psalm 97 or are we looking forward to Jesus Christ’s return with Revelation 22.
Share where the scripture is taking you this week!
Katy Stenta is a solo pastor at a tiny church that is bigger on the inside in Albany, NY for over eight years and blogs at firstname.lastname@example.org She is also the co-founder of the fledgling TrailPraisers inclusive Worship. When she is not dreaming up projects and ideas, some of which creep into the church, she plays with her three boys-boys or goes and visits her husband at the library, while he works, to read.
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