Word. That’s what my bonus son Rico often says. Just that. Word. It’s slang for “I am in agreement” or can mean “I hear what you are saying” or “well said”.
This week we hear lots of words from John 17. In a very lengthy prayer (that takes up all of the seventeenth chapter) Jesus prayers for his disciples and we can take it to be a prayer for us. Knowing that it is the night of his betrayal, arrest, soon it will be his trial and his crucifixion Jesus uses his last words with his disciples in a lengthy prayer and it is lots of words. As we prepare to hear part of this passage this coming weekend in worship (John 17:1-11) I would encourage you to read all of John 17. Today I am struck in particular by verses seven and eight. This is Jesus praying…
7 Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8 for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. John 17:7-8
Word. Those for whom Jesus is praying for have heard his words ands have experienced him as the Word made flesh. The gospel writer makes the connection of Jesus and and the Word. In the beginning of John’s Gospel there is the parallel of John 1 and Genesis.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
Word. You and I have both received the Word and lots of words about Jesus. Words matter and make a difference. Words make things happen. Words can create connections, set in motions plans, create barriers, deepen relationship, distance us from one another… so many things happen with word. Words matter. Word?
Engaging with God’s word; reading scripture, using scripture in prayer, singing words of scripture open us up to hear, experience and know Jesus and God’s word in new ways. All Easter season we have been exploring the Psalms. One of my favorite songs of Psalm 119:105 is sung by Amy Grant. It’s the music video posted at the top of this blog post and here it is also.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105
The writer of Psalm 119 has lots of words. Here is the Message translation of Psalm 119. Two thousand, seven hundred and forty-one words in the Message and 2540 is the word count in the NRSV translation. That is a lot of words. Words can come to us in so many ways; in what we read, what we hear, what we watch, what we sing.
When in youth group we sang the song, Open our Eyes Lord, it became a prayer. One of the things I learned in youth group growing up was that there are all sorts of ways to pray. We would do “popcorn prayers” where people would offer up a word or phrase like a kernel popping, we would sing as prayer, we would each take a turn going around the circle and say a single word as a prayer. It wasn’t just about words it was about being present and connected to God and one another.
Jesus’ prayer in John 17 is pretty long- 674 words. That’s a long prayer and lots of words. What does Jesus want for his disciples and for us? To be united, to be connected, to not only know about Jesus but to know this Word made flesh is from God and is God. United. Words to encourage us to be one, as Jesus and God are one. The last verse of John 17 sums up Jesus’ intent:
so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.
The love of God, the love of Jesus- that it is in us.
Thinking back to youth group I learned to give myself and others a lot of grace when it came to praying. We each pray in our own way. We used to laugh at times during prayers when we felt uncomfortable or someone said something funny as part of their prayer. We learned to be kind and gentle with ourselves and others as sometimes our prayers were our tears. And we often took to heart Paul’s words in Romans 8:26
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.
May the words of this post and the meditations of your heart keep you deeply connected to the Word made flesh. May the words of Jesus’ prayer become your prayer. May the deep sighs you take this day connect you with the power of God’s word as you sing, as you read, as you speak. Today may we be - united in common aim in God’s word to let in the amazing love of Christ and share it with the world. Word?