Tuesday, May 3, 2011
While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. John 17:12-19
When I was in high school, ever so long ago, I gave up the idea of being part of the in-crowd, the cool kids. Not that they would have me anyway, but I realized then I was always going to be different, a left handed, guitar playing, Indian girl poet was not making it in my swanky suburban set. I was set apart by who I was, and nothing I could do was ever going to make me a part of the crowd. I longed to be part of a crowd, of course. We all do. We want to be insiders, not outsiders.
Jesus, in hi prayer talks about sanctifying his disciples and consecrating himself. Sanctified means to be set apart for a holy use, as does the term consecrate. The disciples, by the blessing of Jesus, was setting them apart for ministry and spiritual leadership. They were no longer like anyone else. Being sanctified and consecrated for God's work and reign didn't make them holy, it set them apart for a holy use, to be vessels of God's love and activity in the world. Their burden was great after Jesus went from them, and yet they had a sense, as they look back to this prayer and this day, that they were tenderly cared for despite everything they were challenged with.
Today, I want to give thanks for being set apart for God's work. Despite the obstacles and circumstances that have overwhelmed me at times, I want to remember that each of us is set apart and empowered by God for the ministry to our world. We live and serve in hard times and we are privileged to share some of God's burdens as we share God's endless and renewing love for the least and the outcast everywhere we go.