7 Easter - John 17:1-11
Toward the end of May, I recall a point lost in November of 1863.
President Abraham Lincoln stood on a battle-field in Pennsylvania and said,
We can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground.
The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.
The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.
The world, of course, forgot the soldiers' names and valor and stories and instead remembered
the president's words, which continued:
It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought
here have thus far so nobly advanced.
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in
vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
This and every Memorial Day, we honor those who have given "the last full measure of
devotion," at Gettysburg and around the globe, across centuries and oceans, to protect and advance the American cause of freedom, the meaning of which, thanks to them, we
continue to enjoy the privilege of arguing about.
There are resonances, and also differences, in the words of Jesus.
He is not obsessed with freedom like we are, nor drunk on individualism.
He would wear his face mask and stay home to worship, not because he's a lemming who forfeits
his rights to obey invasive government—no one like that ends up crucified—but
because he values his neighbors.
Like the fallen heroes we honor, he is willing to lay down his life to save others.
And the night before he does, his concern is for them.
Today's gospel is the first part of his lengthy and poignant payer for the disciples he is leaving