Today is the last Sunday in the season of Easter. These last three weeks the gospel of John has treated us to a slew of farewell words. Aphorisms Jesus’ gifts his beloved disciples, wisdom to guide and prepare them to live without him.
Three weeks ago the gospel read, “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples.” Wilf asked not what does Jesus do and how do we emulate that but how did Jesus love. How is it that Jesus loves for by this we’re known as disciples? As if it’s not simply an acquired garment we overlay ourselves with.
Last week we heard, “those who love me, my Father will love and we will come and make our home with them; my peace I give to you, not as the world gives.” Let’s not ask what does this mean what does this peace look like so we can grasp to then emulate. Let’s ask how are we a place of home for the divine, how do we receive a peace given but not as the world gives?
The gospel today, “I in them and you in me that they may become completely one, so that the world may know you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” How is Jesus one with the Father? How are we to become completely one, how is it possible? And who wants this – to become absorbed in some amorphous sameness of being with everyone?
There’s something revelatory going on here. We’ve heard these words before. The repetitive circularity of argument’s sufficiently convoluted to befuddle, perhaps make our eyes glaze over. Yeah, yeah it’s all about love. To disengage.
If something’s being revealed here, what is Jesus talking about? If we’re seeking to comprehend, to gain understanding so to be disciples in our day, what’s being shown forth here? It seems important.
Love, we had, then peace, now oneness. All of these things threaded through with Father and Jesus and Holy Spirit intertwined, as one, and now it’s our turn to be as one.
If we follow a thread through today’s gospel, evading its repetition, it sounds a bit like this, “that they may all be one; that the world may believe you have sent me; and loved them as you have loved me; before the foundation of the world;
Oneness, belief, sent, loved before the foundation of the world.
Oneness … is this about unity? About us being as one or is it that we’re as one being?
When we speak of oneness do we imagine that as some unifying, kind of drawn together, retracting into tight ball – held together by some centralising power? Or do we imagine oneness as an ever expanding energy, a network with power held in the relational connectivity?
This oneness Jesus speaks of in his farewell words to his closest friends – is it something they’re going to have to strive to achieve? Their success or failure as Jesus-teaching bearers depends on them being as one. So they’re to seek oneness before all else. And it may mean they have to guard and defend oneness from any threat of difference or divergence.
Or could this oneness of which Jesus speaks be something that is, the way things are. Consider creation itself. Is it expressing divine oneness in all its abundant and glorious variety, reflecting divine glory, revealing divine love from before the foundation of the world?
How is Jesus one with the Father? We’re accustomed to speak of the divine as uncreated over against that which is created. Jesus is created how is he one with the divine source of life? How can what’s created be as one with uncreated? These are of course words, by which we’re necessarily limited and bound, words to describe what’s beyond words.
Jesus farewell words – are they describing how things are, to his disciples, to those who will hear them and now to us. We’re being invited to participate in the way things are. Also being revealed is of a choice available to us.
If Jesus speaks of how things are, he tells of an innate already connection in God – the creating source of life. As he was sent, intended, so creation’s intended, we each, a creation intended, not by accident made. And, as Jesus knows this, so we can know this. In knowing this we too can be intentional. We too can attend, nurture, strengthen and develop this deep connectivity, participate in relationship, become as one. As we do so we’re opened, made aware we participate in the energy of and for life that which we name God, of our being part of a One. Uniquely and individually we’re created, empowered to choose whether to collaborate, cooperate with this energy for life or to turn aside.
In Brian Taylor’s words, “[W]e can let go of the security of keeping God as a thing for ourselves, as a being. [W]e can come to know God simply as Being itself. … [T]he creative and dynamic energy within us and throughout the universe, of life and love. … If God is Being, then union with God is not something to be achieved; it is a fact of life… our efforts in prayer … are to open ourselves to what is, and what can be realised in us, with awareness. ... If God is Being, then when we love we are … moving with, rather than against, the Being of all life. Love is what works and it is how things are.” 
We’re a community of rich and varied talents and preferences. I know that some of us likely have little time and perhaps little patience for such seeming introspection. Or rather it’s all good and fine but without concrete outputs, what use is it? Some of us just want to get on and do stuff. And last I preached I did indeed suggest that by what we do as a community of faith we’ll be known or become known. That how we enact what we speak of, reveals how we are the resurrected body of Christ in the world.
If being as One is the way things are. We can look to the plethora and variety of creation we see how Oneness is expressed. Or turn to Paul’s metaphor of the many parts that is body of Christ. We, as the body of Christ in this place, are a conglomeration of many, varied, diverse and different parts. We participate in the One that is. It means we need each other. It means we value and take seriously each person who has part, in all their wholeness and brokenness, in our Oneness. We don’t all need to be the same to express oneness.
Likewise we need to be mindful to align our doing with the knowing gained from our growing awareness of how to most skilfully and effectively enact the life of God for the world. We need to open ourselves, to be willing to be changed, to be willing to hear and heed the voice of the other and the cry of creation. We need one another, creation needs us to act and our world has a need of knowing this Oneness of which we speak. Aa authors Andrew Harvey and Carolyn Baker in Savage Grace: Living resiliently in the Dark Night of the Globe, reflect:
“Many activists have … [a] profoundly limiting rejection of religion and any form of spirituality. … One of our deepest purposes in writing this book is to awaken activists of every kind to the urgent necessity of empowering themselves at a far deeper level … with the peace, passion, stamina and moral and spiritual strength that can only come from an incessant cultivation of the inner divine.
It would be tragic if the dominant soulless culture prevents activists from drawing on the grace, power, stamina, strength and discerning wisdom of the conscious spirit. …[C]onfronting the appallingly difficult world crisis in which we are engulfed without being sustained by spiritual practice is, as Marion Woodman once said … like walking into a raging forest fire dressed only in a paper tutu.
What this demands of us is an unprecedented claiming of our own inner and outer authority. If humanity is going to have the ghost of a chance … it can only be through the arising of a worldwide movement of universal love in action. This cannot come from above. It can only come from the individual acts of millions of ordinary people daring to come together … to claim and take back their power. In an increasingly authoritarian society … the only source of strength is within ourselves and within the communities we improvise and create. 
Oneness is not limited to the boundaries of community we create. We participate in Oneness with creation. We have unique and particular part to play. It is time to take our place. It is time to act.
 Brian C. Taylor Setting the Gospel Free SCM Press London 2010, 64
 Andrew Harvey and Carolyn Baker Savage Grace: Living Resiliently in the Dark Night of the Globe iUniverse: Bloomington, IN 2017, 49-51