40 Names of Jesus in 40 days of Lent — Day 42

Ascension day 2022

Jesus sitting on the right hand of the Father

I am starting not with the ascension but with a prayer Jesus made for his disciples before his crucifixion:

I’m praying not only for them
But also for those who will believe in me
Because of them and their witness about me.
The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me.
Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you’ve sent me and loved them
In the same way you’ve loved me.

John 17:20-23 The Message

It is one thing to say that Jesus is praying for us, interceding for us at the right hand of the Father, but what is he praying for? As Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:6) his prayers for the church will be the same as when he was on the earth and we have a good example of his prayer in the verses above. Jesus is still concerned about us being one because it is in unity that we mature, is it any wonder that a divided church, refusing to accept each other on small points of doctrine is showing to the world how immature we are? Instead of speaking the words of Jesus into politics, we are speaking the word of politics into the church from our pulpits, right-wing, centre, left-wing, I’ve heard it all. But Jesus made it clear that he accepts anyone who will turn to him, ANYONE! Let us accept each other, let us be like Jesus.

When I speak of unity and acceptance here I am not talking about uniformity. Trying to make everyone the same is often abusive. Unity in Christ I believe is in accepting as our brothers and sisters. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” said Paul in Galatians 3:28, in our times I would say there is no straight or LGBT+, no cisgender or trans, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. When Jesus said he accepts all who believe him, all who come to him, he meant just that. We cannot be one if we put up barriers to others coming to Jesus.

That the church is divided whilst Jesus is praying for us to be one is an indictment on the church. Shame on us.

But there is also an individual element to Jesus praying for us:

Hebrews 7:25 says, “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” Did you know that Jesus is praying for you? Jesus who has lived as a human being, even as a servant of human beings, he was even humble enough to allow men to kill him, even though he had the power to resist and the same love that the Father God had for Jesus, Jesus has for you, every last one of you. Did you know that you are loved? Well you are, whether you feel loved or not. There is nothing that can stop Jesus from loving you.

I have a chotki, an Orthodox prayer rope. It has 32 knots and a cross to represent the 33 years of Jesus’ life. The knots are in four groups of eight separated by three beads, which have no significance but are only there to aid counting. On each knot and the cross, I pray, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.” Sometimes I change the end to “have mercy on us,” or extend it to “Have mercy on me a sinner,” or, “have mercy on me the sinner,” depending on the situation. The simplicity of this prayer means that it can be prayed anywhere, I travel a lot by bus, so have ample time for prayer at the bus stop. Pause a while…

I am back. It would be pointless talking about the chotki and the Jesus prayer without actually doing it. I pray that the mercy of Jesus will be with me as the prayer leads me into resting in him.

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