Acts 1:15-17, 21-26; John 17:1-19
Sermon What Is Life
Good morning! I’ve had the song “What Is Life” running through my head for the last several weeks. How many of you know it? It’s one of the first songs that George Harrison released after the Beatles broke up. It’s really infectious and it starts with this great riff. Larry, can you help us out?
Catchy, isn’t it?
I knew the song, but I had forgotten about it until I was looking for another song on YouTube. I noticed there was a video for this song and it appeared to be fairly recent, which seemed odd. George Harrison has been dead for close to twenty years. Why did someone release a music video in 2014? Instead of investigating that question, I watched the video.
Then I watched it again. And again. And again.
It starts off with a young woman, standing in front of a house. She wears a yellow sweater and a pale-yellow skirt. There’s a tinge of happiness on her face, but otherwise, she’s expressionless. The video was recorded on the grounds of the Presidio in San Francisco, where the young woman dances through a garden, a cemetery, and lots of woods.
About two-thirds of the way through the song, the young woman meets a young man. He’s wearing a yellow shirt, the same color as her sweater. He mirrors her moves. He follows her. And then they begin to dance together. Their expressions change as they dance. By the end of the video, they are joyful.
The message of the song and the video is this: Life is connection.
We are not fully alive if we live only for ourselves.
Our reading this morning from the Gospel of John is about both human connection and connection with God. This is the end of the section of John’s gospel that scholars call the farewell discourse. Our last few readings have been from the farewell discourse. Jesus is preparing the disciples for their life and ministry without the human Jesus in the world.
Then Jesus does something weird.
He prays for the disciples.
Right in the middle of the conversation!
Now it’s not weird for Jesus to pray. He does that a lot. Especially in the other three gospels. But most of the time, he does it differently. In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, there are many scenes where Jesus goes off to pray alone. And of course, in the other gospels, the disciples ask Jesus to tell them how to pray, and then they get a version of the Lord’s Prayer.
Instead, while they’re all gathered around the table—the same table where they consumed the Last Supper—Jesus pauses the conversation and starts praying to God. Right in front of all the remaining