With a stroke of pen ... No wait, with a million and half strokes of a pen, we became homeowners. For the first time in our lives, we now are the owners of a home on the south side of Indianapolis. Close to the University of Indianapolis where our journey began, sort of. But now a new journey begins. We met at the Chicago Title Office in Greenwood (I wonder if there is a Greenwood Title Office in Chicago?) And sat with our realtor and with the current owners of the property and their realtor and a title person. (Not a titled person, this wasn’t local royalty, as far as I could tell). And we signed forms. A ream of paper. Form after form, she told us what everything was as she handed it to us to sign. This one is affirming your identity. This one is saying you didn’t lie on the last one. This one says you aren’t lying on any of those others. This one says you understand what you’re doing. I had to hesitate on that one. But La Donna nudged me and I signed. This one says you’ve not been declared mentally incompetent. I looked for affirmation once more, she pointed out that it didn’t say by your wife. Oh, OK. I signed. Then the forms outlining the dire consequences for not paying the mortgage. I swear one of them said they could make soup out of my bones if I was more than 15 days late. Signed that we would have insurance. Signed that we would improve the property. Signed that we would be good neighbors (the Mr. Rogers Form). Signed that we wouldn’t run away screaming - and just in time, I must say. And then suddenly, hands throbbing with cramp, we were done. Just like that. The sellers handed over keys and a garage door opener. Told us about a couple of repair things they promised to do. And then got a little weepy as they realized the house they lived in for thirty years was now in the hands of strangers who didn’t have clue what they were doing, and less than two months ago had no plans of buying a house. And it was over.
We stumbled out into the bright sunshine and tried to massage some feeling back into our fingers while we chatted with our realtor. She’s a member of my new church and therefore especially keen to do a good job, and she did. Including sending her husband the contractor crawling under the house to look at some plumbing issues. And then we said thank you and got in the car for the two hour drive back to Fort Wayne. It was quiet for a while, as we realized that we were both poorer and richer than we have ever been in our lives. A lot of money disappeared from our bank account with the wave of a modern technological wand, money we scraped together from a variety of sources that we didn’t plan on touching for a long time, and now it’s gone. Didn’t even have to write a check (Google it kids!) But then we have a house, in a nice neighborhood, and we’ll move in a few weeks and start over again. A new chapter. A new life. And it felt ... good.
John 17:1-11 After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. 5 So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed. 6 "I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 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. 9 I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11 And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.
Glory. That’s what Jesus’ prayer is about here in the Gospel of John. Glory. Glorify your Son, Jesus prays. It’s chapter seventeen. Almost the end of the Gospel. We are coming to the climax, to the end toward which the whole event was aiming from the philosophical beginnings and the first miracle with water into wine and the wonder that ensued. Glorify your Son. Your Son, he prays. Not me. Not glorify me. Which is what you’d expect if it was just a prayer between Jesus and His Father. But no, it’s not just a prayer, it’s a sermon. An announcement. A word of encouragement for those who are about to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. It’s not a prayer like we understand prayers. It’s a pastoral prayer. Where the pastor prays words that the congregation doesn’t have words to pray. But nods along as though those are exactly the words they were longing to say. Jesus prays like that, for them. For Himself too. But through Him, through His life and His suffering and His death, He prays for them. Puts the words in their mouths.
Oh, I know, the prayer could be a construct. Since John was written many years after the event, this prayer could be a prayer made up of the prayers of the church, of leaders and followers and hopes and dreams. It could be a prayer that was really a theological treatise on the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus. Glorify your Son, as a way to explain to those who come after the event what it all means. Probably. Most likely. But then again, maybe He prayed this way for those who haven’t yet made it through. So that they had a word to hang on to when the wind begins to howl and rain begins to fall. A word to cling to when the ground trembles and the temple shakes. Glory.
What a word to have on the tip of our tongues when things seem uncertain. Glory. Not the glory of this world, awards and prizes and offices and achievements, not the glory celebrity or wealth. No, glorify Your Son because Your Son is glorifying You, by finishing the work. By accepting the cross, taking the nails, breathing through the pain. Glorifying God by dying. I know it sounds ... barbaric. This is the stumbling block that Paul talks so much about. How does this cruel and painful death give God glory? Wouldn’t living be a better way to glorify?
Yes. It is a better way. For us. We are called to live, to hand over our lives to Him and live. Live fully, live joyfully, live united. His dying prayer is that we might learn to do this living thing together. Together. That’s how we finish this work that He has given us to do. By living fully, joyfully and united. In peace. Shalom, the fullness of all that God has in store for us. Our lives give God glory, because Jesus’ death gave God glory. Because He finished, we can finish. Because He was faithful, even unto death, we can be faithful in all of life. And give God glory.
Because He was poorer than He had ever been before, He gave away everything, not holding back even the blood in His veins, the breath in His lungs, because He became poor, He was rich in glory. Glorify your Son, He prays before those confused and soon to be terrorized disciples, glorify even in death, so that there is glory in life. I’ve glorified you, He prayed, by finishing the work. And a day later He says from His place of execution, It is finished.
No, no, no. I’m not equating a new house purchase with the death of the Son of God on a cross. But like so many things, it can be a metaphor, a reminder, a pointer beyond the event itself, toward the gift that life is. It can be an opportunity to give God glory, by finishing the work that He has given me to do. Us to do. To live for Him, not just in a pew on Sunday mornings, but in the world, at work, at school, as we go out and come in, in our house. I may have gotten the form to make soup from my bones wrong. I’ll admit that. But I’m right about our home (and yours) being a place to give God glory. Let God be glorified. Amen.