Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Challenging Times

"I do not pray for these followers only. I pray for those who will put their trust in me through the teaching they have heard. May they all be as one, father, as you are in me and I am in you. May they belong to us." John 17:20-21

In the little town where my mother lives, a town of about 250 year round residents, there is only one store. This store traditionally has been open during spring and fall weekends and all summer when the tourists flood the town. They sell everything from bait to bagels. People of all ages collect there and the kids delight in bringing their change in sweaty fists to buy penny candy all on their own. It is a safe reliable place, and an institution for generations. The store has changed hands many times in my life but the basic goods are about the same. It has been a stable and treasured part of life. For the past two summers it has not been opened. At first, people were more curious and disappointed. Now people are angry. A central part of their life has been whisked away by some one's whimsy, laziness or internal family struggles.

Jesus is talking God, his father, in prayer as the disciples listen in. He knows they are terribly frightened. He knows that what is ahead must seem like whimsy and hideous cruelty to his dear friends. The disciples institution of faith is being threatened. Jesus is talking of going away and the disciples must feel as if their identity and security is being ripped from them. Their world, the love they had enjoyed, everything they had lived through together and been identified with,was talking about going away. They must have been hurt, brokenhearted and a little angry. They were probably terrified also.

We all have times in our live when the people and institutions we count on threaten to be no more. Lots of relationships are threatened in these hard times. I find some comfort in Jesus praying to his father. He is asking for comfort and direction for the disciples present, but he is also praying for you and me. Jesus is praying for people just like us. People who are naturally overwhelmed and terrified when what or who we love talk about going away. I cling to the knowledge that Jesus is in the midst of even the worst threats to our existence. Jesus standing by our bed, our chair, our doors - over all our comings and goings - interceding for us. May we take heart this day when we feel overwhelmed. And may we, when finding others who are overwhelmed, hold them close with the knowledge that God is interceding for us all. God is in the midst of our worst terrors.

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