Exaudi (Seventh Sunday of Easter)
 "I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,  that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,  I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.  Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.  O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me.  I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them." John 17:20-26 (ESV)
Exaudi is a strange Sunday. They used to call it that, Exaudi. Technically the Season of Easter is finished, so this really isn’t the Seventh Sunday of Easter. The season of Easter celebrates the resurrection appearances of Jesus over 40 days with his disciples. It ended when we snuffed the candle this last Thursday in our Ascension day service when it rained and cancelled our kite flying commemoration of Christ’s ascension. Well maybe next year.
That is when Easter ended. Pentecost hasn’t yet come. Exaudi is a Sunday to itself marking the between time. Between the Ascension and the day of Pentecost. It is a Sunday of waiting for the Holy Spirit has not come as promised to the disciples yet. I say as promised, because of course they had the Holy Spirit already, but not yet in the manner that Christ promised them he would come. When we read the Bible we need to keep this is mind, so many don’t, and it gets them all confused about baptism and the importance of it, and baptismal regeneration etc. The Holy Spirit comes, and comes, and comes, each time with a little more, each time with something different. He comes and comes and comes without ever really leaving. But each time He comes upon you He showers you with yet more gifts, more faith, stronger faith. So when Christ promises the Holy Spirit and “regeneration” which is a fancy way of saying new birth or rebirth, in baptism he means it, but that is constantly happening anew in the life and throughout the life of the Christian as the Holy Spirit interacts with our hearts through the word, and through the sacraments, forgiving and re-forgiving our sins, washing and rewashing us from the stain of sin. But it never happens apart from the means that God has established to be used, the word of God and the sacraments. We know the disciples already had the Holy Spirit because among other things Christ explicitly gives them the Holy Spirit in John 20 during one of those Easter appearances, when he appears to them in the upper room. Yet the Holy Spirit is promised to come to them in a different way a few days from now as Christ promises in His Ascension. But He has not yet come. So the disciples are waiting, and listening for the Holy Spirit.
And at this time we turn to the High Priestly Prayer in which Christ so earnestly prays for His disciples, for His church, a prayer Jesus still prays for His disciples, you and I, to this day. It is His prayer, the prayer of our High Priest who stands before the very throne of God on our behalf interceding for us. He prays for us for the same reason we pray for others, because he cares for us and loves us.
Here instead of us praying to Jesus, Jesus himself prays to the Father for us! The prayer of a righteous man that has power, is effective. Him being the only one truly righteous and not needing to be forgiven himself as other High Priests who first needed to sacrifice for themselves before they could sacrifice for others. No, here Jesus sacrifices for us with His prayer, before He sacrifices Himself for us to be our propitiation. He sacrifices for us with His prayer as we sacrifice for others with ours. And our prayers are our sacrifices to God, as we pray for others as His priests in the priesthood of all believers, a royal priesthood intercessing for our neighbors and friends in Christ. He prays for us, and we know that this prayer is accepted by the Father for us, because the prayer of the upright man is acceptable to Him, (Proverbs 15).
The prayer of an upright man is acceptable to God, the prayer of a righteous man. Jesus is that righteous man, that upright man. A man upright as we cannot be. Apart from him we have no righteousness with which to pray, no uprightness. Our righteousness is dependant on His righteousness. We are sinners and outside of Christ we have no reason whatsoever to believe that God will hear our prayers. This is why the prayers of the heathen, the unbelievers are unfruitful, because they do not have the righteousness of Christ that comes to us through faith in Christ’s death and resurrection the fruit of the Spirit. This is why Christ prays that we would be one, as He and the Father are one, and be in Him as He is in the Father, because only there is righteousness and forgiveness found. It is only in His name that this can be found. Righteousness that gives us the ability to boldly pray to the Father, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Only there being in Him, in His name as he prays earlier, can we be one and have true love for each other, true love which has its source in God, who is love. And with that love we love each other, and with that love we love others. And in that love that bonds and unites us together, shared at this communion rail where we commune together and share our unity, unity in doctrine and practice, share a common understanding not only of right and wrong, but of truth and falseness, in that love we are church and in that love we make known the name of the Father to the world even as this name is made known to us in Jesus and this name is love, mercy, forgiveness. And in this name comes peace, peace between you and God, a peace that surpasses all understanding.
Now that peace that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord Amen.