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7 Easter - John 17:9-19; Acts 1:15-17, 21-26

Holy Father, Lord who knows everyone's heart, we thank you for the words and witness of your servants John and Luke.

John dizzies our minds with the prayer of Jesus, too deep for anyone but You to understand completely, but we know he is praying on our behalf and asking You to grant us holy things—union, truth, protection, grace, the power of your love, sanctification, joy—that

we cannot reach on our own.

That doesn't stop us from trying.

As John's words soar to the top floor of heaven, Luke reports from the ground where we are.

Jesus has ascended, and the Holy Spirit has not yet come.

Judas has bailed, leaving a committee slot unfilled.

So before there was a church, there was a church meeting.

The nominating committee forwarded two names.

There was a quick prayer; don't want to tie up business by wasting time chit-chatting with You.

The holy dice roll came up Matthias.

We haven't heard from him since.

But now the slots are filled and the reports can be printed, thanks be to You.

It's how we are, you know, and you love us for it, or more likely in spite of it.

We are addicted to certainty, and we get nervous when things are unclear, especially in times of transition, like right now.

Once again your people are caught in between.

Once upon a time we were in between Egypt and the Promised Land; you remember how ugly that got.

The disciples were in between the ascension of Jesus and the arrival of the Holy Spirit.

And now we are too.

Jesus is your love in person; the Holy Spirit is your love gone virtual.

Jesus is skin we touch; the Spirit is invisible power connecting us globally.

We're not totally comfortable with either.

Today we are in person but still outside, without some of our friends and fellow disciples who are not or can not yet be vaccinated.

Today we are live streaming on the internet, available to the entire world.

Today your church is quickly and awkwardly learning how to be hybrid, part local, part global, part Jesus, part Spirit, in flesh and on screen, and we have open committee slots.

Some of us are still standing around, staring into the sky, waiting for the past to return.

Some of us are charging ahead into the future with no time or patience to listen or wait for You or others.

All of us are anxious, acutely aware that the church and social structures we have built and refined for yesterday are cumbersome and crumbling today.

We have finally caught up with what you are doing in 1957, but it appears you've moved on without consulting us.

And the pandemic has finally dislodged us into full-scale disorder.

Thank you.

Now we are ready for you to move us, in your time and in your wise way, and we are also positioned for compassion.

Now our selfish, anxious hearts are pried open to care for others who are in between.

Strengthen us, O Lord, to love others who feel just as lost as we do.

Bless us to bless newlyweds and new parents at the terrifying threshold of a changed life.

Bless us to bless grieving families and friends whose loved ones will never return.

Bless us to bless graduates, released from the shackles and safety of school and launched like the disciples you worried about into the world.

Bless us to bless others in these overwhelming days, tossed about in high anxiety and uncertainty and political volatility.

And bless us to bless those who can move from the street to a tiny home on their wilderness walk to more permanent shelter.

Now your church has the tiniest inkling how scary it is to be homeless, unable to walk into the sanctuary, adrift on the screen and the lawn, exposed to the weather that we cannot control, confronted with our vulnerability and limitation and reliance on you.

Now we who are so addicted to comfort and control and certainty and the seductive myths of achievement and independence feel what it is to need, and it sucks, and we don't like it, which is why we try so obsessively to avoid it.

But we need you, and we need each other, and others need us.

Sanctify us in this and every difficult truth; shape us in your word.

The wayward world is deep in us; turn the story and send us deep into the world, fortified with your love for us that shows up in person and also connects all things as a wireless wind.

Open our hearts and hands to generous sharing with our fellow travelers who are lost between a familiar yesterday and a frightening tomorrow, because that's all of us.

Hear our Lord's prayer for us, and work with and through and around and despite our decisions.

Walk us all into hope and home into your love and joy.

For Jesus' sake, and in his holy name, Amen.

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