My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one,Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. – John 17
This morning’s walk with Scout Labradoodle was typically serene, prayerful, and contemplative. Then, without even firing a warning shot across the bow, I was set upon, ambushed – mugged if you will, by a seriously angry gang of yellow jackets.
The first I knew of the attack was a loud buzzing in my ear. Imagine the sound a mosquito makes, then multiply it by a factor of at least fifty! By the time I emerge from the fracas I had stings in my ear, under my armpit, and on my feet.
What a rude start to the day.
The incident was, in fact, quite the contrast to yesterday. Sunday morning Rebekah did a “pulpit exchange” with Byron Wade, pastor of Davie Street Presbyterian, a historic African American church in downtown Raleigh (thanks to George Dudley for the photos from WFPC).
The church may be older than us (150 instead of 25), it may not have as large a membership, and it may be an urban congregation as opposed to Wake Forest’s suburban location… but Davie Street faces exactly the same challenges we do when it comes to identity. Simply put, both Davie Street and Wake Forest have a long way to go in terms of ethnic diversity.
This exchange has been on the calendar for a long while, but we firmly believe the date was set by God’s providence. Neither Rebekah nor Byron had any idea there would be a Charlottesville last weekend, but speaking in each other’s pulpits turned out to be the exact best response.
We were warmly received at Davie Street, and Rebekah spoke about Christ’s prayer for practical love and unity. “Jesus was praying for you,” Rebekah said, “Jesus was praying for me. Jesus was praying for both our congregations; Jesus was praying that others will know something real about the love of God through Jesus because of who we are.”
I have this picture on my head, of Jesus praying at the last supper; he pauses, pulls back the curtain of time, and speaks directly into my life today. Jesus is praying specifically for me, and also for you.
Of course, the bigotry and the hate displayed at Charlottesville hurts Jesus so deeply. But – and just as much because it is so cumulatively tragic – Jesus is grieved by the status quo, the day by day sameness of segregation, of not bothering to know one another, of quiet resignation.
So much of this healing can get jump started in the context of following Jesus. In fact, it’s reconciliation to God that is the most necessary first step.