Sermons 2007
"Unity and Diversity" Easter 7C, 20 May 2007, John 17:20-26

Home | In the Beginning was the Word, Christmas Day, 25 December 2007, John 1:1-14 | What's Missing? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2007, Luke 2:1-20 | Joseph, the Forgotten One, Advent 4A, 23 December 2007, Matthew 1:18-25 | Come with Joy, Advent 3A, 16 December 2007, Matthew 11:2-11 | Darkness or Light? Advent 1A, 2 December 2007, Matthew 24:37-44 | What Kind of King is He? Proper 29C, 25 November 2007, Luke 23:35-43 | Predictions and the Horseman of the Apocalypse, Proper 28C, 18 Nov 2007, Luke 31:5-19 | Just passing through? Proper 27C , 11 November 2007, Luke 20:20-38 | Not like others? Proper 25C, 28 October 2007, Luke 18:9-14 | "We are bold to say", Proper 24C, 21 October 2007, Luke 18:1-8a | "The ten lepers", Proper 23C, 14 October 2007, Luke 17:11-19 | Proper 22C and Holy Baptism, 7 October 2007 | A taste of cool water, Proper 21C, 30 September 2007, Luke 16:19-31 | We hear what we want to hear, Proper 20C, 23 September 2007, Luke 16:1-13 | "Lost -- but found!" Proper 19C, 16 September 2007, Luke 15:1-10 | "Who is coming to dinner?" Proper 17C, 2 September 2007, Luke 14:1, 7-14 | Doors and narrow gates, Proper 16C, 26 August 2007, Luke 13:22-30 | "Fire to the earth", Proper 15C, 19 August 2007, Luke 12:49-56 | "Do not be afraid, little flock', Proper 14C, 12 August 2007, Luke 12:32-40 | "How much is enough?" Proper 13C , 5 August 2007, Luke 12:13-21 | "Lord, teach us to pray" Proper 12C, 29 July 2007, Luke 11:1-13 | "The Better Part?" Proper 11C, 22 July 2007, Luke 10:38-42 | The Good Samaritan -- the Summary of the Law" Proper 10C, 15 July 2007, Luke 10:25-37 | "Travel Light!" Proper 9C, 8 July 2007, Luke 10:1-12, 16-20 | "Independence Day" Proper 8C, 1 July 2007, Luke 9:51-62 | "Three Questions", Proper 7C, 24 Jun 2007, Luke 9:18-24 | "In or Out?" Proper 6C, 17 June 2007, Luke 7:36-50 | "On Grace", Proper 5C, 10 June 2007, Luke 7:11-17 | Trinity C, 3 June 2007 | Pentecost C, 27 May 2007 | "Unity and Diversity" Easter 7C, 20 May 2007, John 17:20-26 | "Come, Holy Spirit, Come" Easter 6C, 13 May 2007, John 14:23-29 | "What is this thing called love?" Easter 5C, 6 May 2007, John 13:31-35 | "Numbers and Sheep", Easter 4C, 29 April 2007, John 10:22-30 | Virginia Tech, Easter 3C, 22 April 2007 Revelation 6:8-10 | Thomas Doubter and Believer, Easter 2C, 15 April 2007. John 20: 19-31 | ""Why do you look for the living among the dead?" Easter Sunday, 8 April 2007, Luke 24:1-10 | Good Friday 6 April 2007 | Maundy Thursday 5 April 2007 | Why are we not surprised? Palm/Passion Sunday C, 1 April 2007, Luke 22:39-23:50 | Party or Pout? Lent 4C, 18 March 2007, Luke 15:11-32 | To Stand on the Mountaintop, Lent 3C, 11 March 2007, Exodus 3:1-15 | "Ways Not Taken", Lent 2C, 4 March 2007. Luke 13:22-35 | "Liminal Thresholds and Lintels", Lent 1C, 25 February 2007, Luke 4:1-13 | Ash Wednesday Meditation 2007 | "Transfiguration and Transformation, Epiphany Last C, 18 February 2007, Luke 9:28-36 | "Weal and Woe", Epiphany 6C, 11 February 2007, Luke 6:17-26 | "Who, me?" Epiphany 5C, 4 February 2007, Luke 5:1-11 | "Filled with rage!" Epiphany 4C, 28 January 2007, Luke 4:21-32 | "The Spirit of the Lord is upon us," Epiphany 3C, 21 January 2007, Luke 4:14-21 | "Weddings and Miracles," Epiphany 2C, 14 January 2007, John 2:1-11 | Schism and Epiphany, Epiphany 1C, 7 Dec 2007, Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Easter 7C 2007 John 17:20-26; Acts 16:16-34

In the last few years television has brought some of the most remarkable images from around the world directly into our living rooms. We have been horrified by Tiananmen Square, rejoiced over the dismantled Berlin Wall, bitten our fingernails and prayed during the unfolding of Gulf Wars One and Two and sat open-mouthed at the collapse and breakup of the Soviet Union. In the western world we have vicariously participated in these events together, our national identities seemingly submerged in the unifying excitement of seeing it all unfold before our eyes.
At the same time we find ourselves divided by the continuing Israeli conflict, riveted by the bloody mayhem between Fatah and Hamas, the ongoing war in Iraq, the tensions with Iran and other Middle Eastern entities, the worldwide struggle between radical Islamists and the rest of the world, particularly the western world.

As we look at the state of Christendom today, if ever such a thing as Christendom ever existed, we see signs of unity taking place quietly here and there. But more often we hear the shrieks and shouts of self-righteous schismatics.

This week's Gospel text presents Jesus' words of power and comfort, "I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one" (John 17:23). But oneness has never been a quality the church has had much of an opportunity to celebrate. In the church's first few centuries it was so concerned about establishing a creed of theological orthodoxy that it saw heresy and treachery everywhere. Since the time of the Great Schism around the year 1000 AD between Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Western Roman Christianity, especially since the time of the 16th Century Protestant Reformation, the church has become churches, defined by denominations, and especially splinter groups, obsessed with establishing their differences rather than their similarities. (1)
My favorite silly story about such things is this one: Some time ago a man ran into a fellow who was carrying a Bible.

"Are you a believer?" The man asked him.
"Yes," he said excitedly.
"Virgin birth?" "I accept it."
"Deity of Jesus?" "No doubt."
"Death of Christ on the cross?" "He died for all people."
“Could it be that I was face to face with a Christian? Perhaps,” wondered the first man. Nonetheless, he continued his checklist. "Status of man." "Sinner in need of grace." "Definition of grace." "God doing for man what man can't do."
"Return of Christ?" "Imminent."
"Bible?" "Inspired." "The Church?" "The Body of Christ."
Both men started getting excited. "Conservative or liberal?"
"Conservative." Their hearts began to beat faster.
"Heritage?" "Southern Congregationalist Holy Son of God Dispensationalist Triune Convention."
“That was mine!” thought the first man.
"Branch?" "Pre-millennial, post-tribulation, non-charismatic, King James, one-cup communion."
The first man’s eyed misted with emotion and fellowship. He had only one other question, as he reached out his hand.
"Is your pulpit walnut or mohogany?"
"Fiberglass," he responded.
The first man withdrew his hand and stiffened his neck. "Heretic!" he shouted and walked away. (2)

On a deep level our greatest problem may be distinguishing Jesus' promise of oneness from our own concept of "hegemony." Hegemony refers to the situation where only one way of thinking, one way of seeing, is allowed and accepted. Some historians have finally noticed in the last few decades that a hegemonious skewering of history has led to textbooks filled with the politically correct and exclusive viewpoints and experiences of certain groups.

Jesus came to enable us to become a faith community united by love, not driven apart by hegemony. In our post-modern culture the Self is still Numero Uno. The purpose of the church on earth is to incarnate a very different Latin phrase - the unum humanum - one humanity.

The church is fast approaching the time when its original discovery - the oneness at the heart of humanity - has been forgotten and waylaid so long that when it finally does begin proclaiming the unum humanum the world will yawn with boredom.

But achieving political, economic, even environmental oneness will ultimately depend on recognizing the spiritual oneness shared by all humanity. In Christ there is no male and female, Arab and Jew, Serb and Croat, black and white -- we are all God’s children, we all have the divine spark flickering in our hearts. (1)

A great English preacher of the last century put it this way: "Some people come in to me and they say, 'I am glad to meet you, I come from India (Australia, America or some other country), and I am a good Congregationalist'; or others come and say, 'I am a good Methodist', or 'I am a Baptist,' and immediately I feel there is no union. But others come, and they do not tell me whether they are Baptist or Methodist or Congregationalist, they just come in and say, 'What a wonderful Lord we have! Thank God this is the same gospel here as in my home country and my hometown!'” (3)


1. Adapted and modified from Homiletics on Line, Unum Humanum, John 17:20-26, 5/31/1992,
2. Max Lucado, A Gentle Thunder, p. 139-140, quoted in eSermons Illustrations for May 20, 2007
3. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Growing in the Spirit: The Assurance of Our Salvation (Westchester, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1989), 140, as quoted in eSermons Illustrations for May 20, 2007.