We have come to the final verse of John 17 and our Countdown is ended.
My heart feels much like our home looks…bits and scraps of wrapping paper lie here and there…boxes with tissue and gift receipts are stacked near every chair and on either side of the couch. Remnants of various bags of treats are scattered amongst clean dishes waiting to be put away.
The departure of one child to head back to her own home and life is ticking away in my heart far too quickly as she will load up her car in a matter of hours.
And yes, this was Christmas.
We have laughed and eaten and celebrated and now we will hug our goodbyes and separate and live out where God has placed each of us.
Our time together is tucked away in a crowded treasure box in our hearts and we will call on those memories when we cannot tangibly reach over and take hold of a hand or give a tight squeeze as we take turns filling another coffee mug or sharing a puzzle to work on.
And in a similar way, we say goodbye to our time shared this Advent season looking at Jesus’ tender prayer in the Garden.
I have loved so much sharing the thoughts He prayed for His disciples…His loving words for the eleven who had remained with Him and the many who believed then and have believed in the centuries since…including you and I and all who will believe until He returns.
Our final verse is John 17:26
And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.NKJV
I told them what you are like, and I will them even more. Then the love that you have for me will become part of them, and I will be one with them.CEV
Eugene Peterson has a lovely way of tying this together in his commentary notes following this prayer:
And as he prayed, he gathered up the life they had lived together and fused it into the life the disciples would continue to live, praying his life work and their life work into an identity. It was going to be the same life whether people saw and heard Jesus living it or would see and hear the disciples living it.The Message, Eugene Peterson; NavPress, 2007, 2012. p 1672
Jesus did not rely on memories or human recollection to equip His disciples and followers. He gave us Himself.
Through His death and Resurrection, He has sent us the Holy Spirit to live in us who believe.
The living and active Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus the Son…the Triune God…lives in each of us when we receive the gift of salvation through grace and faith.
He guides us and leads us and teaches each one of us, so that we are equipped to be the living example of Jesus Christ in this world.
Peterson concludes his commentary with these words.
The pattern holds: Whatever we do in Jesus’ name, we begin on our knees before our friends and neighbors and conclude ‘looking up to heaven’ praying to our Father. Washing dirty feet and praying to the Holy Father bookend our lives.THE MESSAGE, EUGENE PETERSON; NAVPRESS, 2007, 2012. P 1672
As you wash sheets and empty the dishwasher, vacuum the crumbs from under the table and haul the tree out to the curb…as you return to your desk or wave a loved one off to their own journey…I pray you will know the Christ of Christmas has never left you.
So I close out our Countdown with this beautiful prayer of blessing over us from the author of the book of Hebrews:
Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen <3Hebrews 13:20 NKJV