by Thom Fiet
Luther thought the Jews would come around and become Christians. He thought once clarity was achieved in terms of understanding the nature and role of Christ, it would be a no-brainer for the Jewish people to come into the fold of the Church. Indeed, things were clear, and they said no.
Luther’s anti-Semitism, I suppose just under the surface, went postal after it became clear that the Jews would never come around to the Messiah Jesus. Some people rage when they’ve been jilted. What do we do when things look like they are not going to work out?
The passage today has Jesus praying for his disciples and for those who will come after them. Even though the gospel of John is the most triumphant gospel, I hear Jesus whistling in the dark.
I wonder if Jesus feels as if he has failed? Even now, with our checkered past as a religion, I wonder how Jesus feels about the “Church Triumphant”? Was it worth it all? The bother, the sacrifices, the Sacrifice. Has it been, for the most part, in vain?
At his last State of the Union address, President Obama expressed regret that he could not bring the country together—it is more polarized than ever. I certainly can sympathize, looking back and seeing my own ministry as mostly of little or no effect; mostly a failure and perhaps even a waste of time.
I wonder if the prayers of Jesus are about as effectual as my own. It seems so as he is praying for unity of the church, and what has resulted is anything but.
I wonder how he bears it? The failure of his ministry. Doing the righteous and heroic thing and still so little to show for it. Can we live with a good effort and a disappointing result? I wonder how he bears it? Maybe he has time on his side; maybe he can wait us out until that time when we will answer his prayers saying: “Here we are, sorry it took so long.”
Thom Fiet is pastor at Lyall Memorial Federated Church, located in Millbrook, New York.