While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. Luke 2:6-7
hurches today are definitely different than this stable, but in this season there are similarities that attract me to this idea: was this the first “church?” This manger was not an accident that happened in an overcrowded village at a busy time. God provided it. Don’t be fooled into believing any details of the birth of Jesus were God’s last-ditch effort to provide a place for Jesus because there was no room in the inn. God chose that stable and that food trough as a sacred space.
A stable isn’t the perfect structure I might have hoped for, but like every other church, availability matters. That first church wasn’t meant to be a place for privileged and perfect people, but for people who needed a “place.” A place where the curious could come and look to see whether what they’d heard was real. The things that made that “first” church perfect still matter. God still chooses to make his Son available there. There are still wise men and women who follow a Holy path and give the gifts they have. We still have shepherds who rise and boldly tell the story of what they hear and see. In this season we still sing “Gloria,” the music of praise-filled words we forget to speak the rest of the year. Today’s “modern stable” still holds the same promise of that first church: God has chosen it as a sacred space where the needs of the people and the holiness of God finally can meet, and come together.
John 17:20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” ESV
What is the general theme of the passage?
Jesus prays that the truth He’s spoken to “these” He’s kept in the Father’s name will endure for “those who will believe in me through their word.” He’s giving each of them a part of His own “glory” to unite them with the Father “even as we are one” so “the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus is asking the Father to grant their shared one-ness to those who “may believe that you have sent me”… in the future.
What does it say about people?
It’s not unusual that people want to establish their identity with one another. It’s exactly what Jesus prayed for us. What is unusual is the ways we’ve chosen to do it.
Is there truth here for me?
Jesus’s trust is complete; that if “these” people [us] can experience that one-ness with each other they will confirm the reality of His ministry to the world. The Father is going to answer that prayer by choosing to make His followers “perfectly one” in a very distinctly unique way…because of their shared identity with Jesus.
Romans 15:5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
AND – a conjunction used to connect words of the same part of speech, clauses, or sentences that are to be taken jointly.
There are some people who can thrive and grow together debating their significant differences on various topics. I want to be one of them. I’d rather talk about the things that we agree on even though I may think something different. That’s not endurance or encouragement, that’s avoidance. Mind and voice are not exclusive, they’re connected by divine design. That’s how I happened to notice every “and” in these two verses of Romans. That one little word can make such a big difference in my “attitude of mind” if I pay attention to my need for it.
It’s become the basis of my simple prayer for today. “May the God who gives…” give me endurance AND encouragement; one mind AND one voice so we can grow AND thrive together to glorify the God AND father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen
Hebrews 6:1 Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so.
I would much rather be told what moving “beyond the elementary” looks like than to be reminded I haven’t. So after the warnings in Chapter 5, I’m grateful for the encouragement of this first part of Chapter 6 that begins “Therefore Let Us…”
Those three words include you and me – we are “us.” Us means I am not trying to figure this out all alone. Jesus secured the foundation of our repentance for “us” with his forgiveness and his promises. God has revealed himself to “us” in his Word and in the sacramental events of faith. Worship is an opportunity for “us” to “…be taken forward to maturity…And God permitting, we will do so”…together.