In the Gospel of John, chapter 17, Jesus prays on behalf of his disciples, “that they may be one, as you [God] and I [Jesus] are one” (John 17:11). Throughout his Gospel, John talks about how Jesus is in God, and we are in Jesus. It is lofty language, but it gets you to thinking: how indeed are we one?
By the time you receive this Circulation, I will be back home in northern Minnesota visiting my family, as my Dad celebrates his 80th birthday on Monday, May 29th. It hardly seems like it has been 30 years since I was finishing grade school and he was turning 50. Our years pass by so quickly, and the moments that we can share, like photographs, remain in our memories for all of those years—seeing Dad come home from work, a game of catch at the school’s baseball diamond, a tense word or two, a hug, a drive of some thousand miles to Michigan to visit his family of origin, to learn more about where and who I came from.
I’ve always been fascinated by family history, ever since I was 9 years old and did a school project that had us put together a family tree. I wondered where I came from, who my people were. My Grandma, Mom’s Mom, moved to my hometown after her retirement that year and regaled me with stories of her childhood in the 1920s, of starting her kindergarten year in Elroy, Wisconsin, at the age of 4, of her family’s Maxwell car, of her Dad’s attempts at being a chiropractor. It would be many years before I learned more about Grandma’s parents, and her grandparents, and her great-grandparents, some things good and delightful, others not as much.
But all of these people, all of these stories, are somehow in me: literally and figuratively. They flow into me, and through me, making me and taking me with them, into the unknown future.
We are reservoirs of the past and rivers to the future, whether we produce children or not. Because beyond our DNA, our mannerisms, our gifts and our challenges, we pass on something of ourselves to others when we pass on our ideas, our feelings, and our faith.
“I pray that they may be one.” I’m grateful to the Rev. Dr. Peter Vethanayagamony for faithfully supplying the Word and sacrament in my absence. He related to me the other day that it is one of his favorite texts, which he will preach on this Sunday (May 28th), a foundational text of ecumenical dialogue. We are of many rivers, and yet our faith all flows into one God.
Whatever our characteristics may be, we are one in the human family. But how we live often flows against that “oneness”: divisions, judgments, slights, disappointments, regrets, envies, and so many other experiences both individual and structural within our societies work against our experience of being one in God.
Yet in our witness of faith, as individuals and as a community, we create a home for those who need a home, a family for those who need family, a rock and fortress, mighty in the love that Jesus has for us. Each of us at Trinity helps to make this community of faith a beacon to the wider community of Park Forest, the south suburbs, and indeed the wider world.
Our welcome genuinely touches others—I’ve heard about it even in my short time here, as I’ve experienced it myself.
And you are part of that welcome, part of that human family in Jesus. We all are. We are all connected in Jesus—a whole new family, with a new, spiritual DNA that we pass on with our witness to the love of God.
Bless you each day,