by Erika Marksbury
Scripture: John 17:20-26
“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. “Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I have made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
“I have made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” –John 17:26
I have and I will. This is the essence of spiritual practice, right? I have done this and I will do it. It is a statement of faithfulness and it is a promise. Jesus says he has made God’s name known to the people – and he will make it known.
My kids challenge me to be faithful in this way. They have that strange kid sense of time, you know, that conflates and expands events and days at will. Maybe I’ve read them bedtime stories every night for three weeks and tonight, I just want them to read by themselves, quietly. My little one says, “But you never read to us.” And when I say, “You know that’s not true,” he comes back with, “You haven’t read to us in four nights.” And I’m pretty sure that’s not true. (And I’m pretty sure it’s manipulative.) But it works, because it makes me wonder – have I not? Has it really been four nights?
And then I wonder – when I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt – does it feel like it’s been a long time since I’ve read to them? I want it to be my habit to read at bedtime with my kids. I want it to be something they can count on. I want them to remember that I have done it and trust that I will do it.
This passage hints that it’s Jesus’ faithfulness in making God’s name known that makes his life in and through his followers real. His consistent witness binds the early community together. His unwavering proclamation made their unity and love possible.
It makes me wonder, what are my habits doing to and for my kids, or my community? What is made possible through the actions I commit to engaging in consistently? What is it that people know I have done, and trust I will do? (I’m sure I don’t want completely honest answers to those questions. But they do help me think about cultivating faithfulness…and about the things I want my kids to remember me doing.)
Questions to Spark Discussion
-Do you ever feel like you have been given glory? What is that like?
-Through whose word (or action, or care) do you come to believe? Tell the stories of those people with your family.
-What is something you both have done and will do? Why does this matter?
-Have you experienced being “one” with someone or something? God, when you’re singing praises? A friend, when you’re sharing a deep laugh? The water, when you’re standing in the waves? Share a story of this kind of experience.
In the friendship bracelets of my youth, individual colors shine vibrantly and yet they come together to make a brilliant whole. When I think about the prayer that Jesus speaks in this passage, I think about those bracelets – all the strands, woven together, like each of us that God weaves into a family.
Here are lots of options for making your own easy bracelets. Choose colors. Maybe assign each color a meaning, or a person’s name. Talk about what it means to weave these ideas or people together as you do so. Talk about the different communities you are woven into, and the ways you know love through them.
Thank you for knowing us.
Thank you for making your name
and your love
known to us.
Thank you for making us all one.