Title: Passion – Communion
Date: Night Church. 12th September, 2021
Preacher: Rev Phil Swain
Bible Reading: John 17:20-26
In the last of our Passion sermon series we are looking at our desire to know and be known. This not only relates to each other but also with our relationship with God. Phil will be sharing some “17 year old Phil-osophy” as well as insights from Kenda Creasy Dean’s book on Practicing Passion.
This is our last week of our passion series … but before we look at the idea of Communion … or communing with God and each other … lets just take a moment to unpack that Bible reading because it is a little weird or complex.
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you 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. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
What is Jesus trying to say here?
- There is a strong and intimate connection between God the Father and the Son. God loves Jesus, sent Jesus, gave Glory to Jesus. The Father is IN Jesus and Jesus is IN the Father. They are so emmeshed that basically, the Father and Jesus are ONE.
- There is a connection between God the Father and us … God absolute loves us and we believe in God and … but the real connection comes through Jesus
- We believe in Jesus and Jesus not only shares his glory with us but offers to be IN us. Become part of our lives … so much so that Jesus refers to this intimate and connected relationship it as being ONE with us.
- And the goal of all this is what … that we might be one with each other. That we might also experience this connected, intimate relationships with each other. That we become ONE.
Are you keeping up with this? Because this is what the third of the passion trilogies is about. Kenda Creasy Dean in her book practicing passion has the concept that as humans we long for different things – and three big things we long for is to be there for each other, to be moved by the extraordinary and to known deeply by each other. Kenda said that these longing can be found in our relationships with each other AND in our relationship with God
- Our longing to be there is found in the fidelity of God, that God promises to be always there for us.
- Our longing to be moved is found in the transcendence of God, the supernatural awe-inspiring nature of God
And tonight we we looking at
- Our longing to be known is found in the way we commune with each other and with God.
Let me share with you some “phil-osophy”.
Sitting on a bus traveling home from school … slouched down chatting with my best friend – everybody needs one person who thinks that they are the most important in the world
That is what we want …
We want to be known deeply and know someone else deeply.
We want to be the most important person in the word to someone.
Remember sitting on the loungeroom floor with Marion when before we were married and being deeply moved thinking about how Marion knew basically everything about me and still loved me. There is something wonderful and scary and extraordinary in the vulnerability and acceptance of being truly known by another person.
Kendra in her book spends a chunk of this chapter talking about romantic relationship and marriage. She said that one thing that surprised her when interviewing young people for her book was the number of youth saying that money or pleasure was good … but they above all hoped for a happy marriage with the perfect partner who would know them intimately and love them unconditionally.
While this is interesting – and happy to talk more on this – I am going to set talk about romantic relationship and marriage aside tonight and instead focus on what it means to know and be known in our connections with each other and with God. What does it mean to be ONE with each other and with God. How can we be transformed from the me into a we.
When it comes to this idea of “to know and be known” … once again, the church SHOULD excel in this. The church should embody this. After all:
- We worship a triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – who core values are relationship, connection and love.
- Our God is one that is not distant but knows us personally. Look up Psalm 139. God created you and knows you personally. God knows where we are, what we are doing, what we are thinking. We are known.
- And at the same time, God invites us to KNOW God. We are invited to address God as Abba Father – Daddy. God is constantly through scripture and revelation allowing us to know God more and more.
The Christian faith could be summed up with the line that we are loved and known by God and through Jesus we are able to know God and be one in relationship with God.
The religious word for this is communion – communing deeply with God and others – and while in other sermons I have said it is not referring to the bread and wine … there is a connection to the communion table. Jesus at the last supper said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13). Part of this deep connection, this communion with each other, is the willingness to surrender all for the other, even one’s life. Knowing and being known involves trust … and that can only come through intentional relationship.
This has been acted out in the life of the church in different ways:
- Early Church – Koinonia … the community of acceptance, love and support
- Middle Ages – monastic orders … people who journeyed spiritually and through life together
- More recently – spiritual direction, spiritual mentors
- Kendra calls it “spiritual friendship”
Picture of triangle – which in her book she was referring to something slightly different, but I have adapted it to make a point. A good spiritual firenship / communion is where a relationship is more than just the desire to be known by someone, to be loved, to be the most important person in the world … it is also
- Encouraging the other to be the best version of them they can be
- Encouraging each other to be in the best relationship with Jesus as can be
Sum up … passion is more than just something that fires us up – that we wish to invest deeply into. A passion taps into the deep desires we have.
TV Show friends … why was it the most popular show on TV and still continues to find fans a generation later.
- To be genuinely there for each other “I’ll be there for you”
- To be moved by the extraordinary “They shared experiences – both thrilling and deep sad experience – with each othe. And remembered those experiences”
- To know others and be known by others. They each had real and significant and loving connections with each other. They did know each other and were known by each other.
May we all find that sort of friends in our life.
May we all find that sort of spiritual friends in our church.
May we all discover that we can find that sort of friend in Jesus.