These words are an intimate prayer by Jesus, knowing his earthly ministry will conclude. In tenderness and devotion he prays for us who cannot seclude ourselves from the world as though we are in a protective cocoon. Not even a pandemic can do this, even though we have very much felt separated in so many ways. This prayer is the basis for one of my very favorite choral pieces. Not a vaunted cantata, or requiem, not Handel’s Messiah, but a poignant and tender piece by composer Nancy Galbraith entitled, “In Unity and Love.” This music was a favorite of the Gettysburg Seminary community, sung often at graduation. Imagine if you will, hearing the loving notes of this prayer enveloping you as you are about to be sent out into the world to serve Jesus. Sent as the sanctified, or as we may more readily understand it, sent as those dedicated to God. Jesus will go on in verse 22 to pray for those dedicated and sent- you and I. That we may be one, as Jesus and the Father are one, so that the world may know that God loves them. In unity and in love.
Cause them all to be one.
One days that have had challenges over the last almost 11 years, I have played this music, remembered singing it for others, and hearing it sung for myself. Inevitably I’m drawn close to the power of this prayer, that it continues to be Jesus’ prayer, still a living word. The world was just as conflicted and challenging then as now. I hope you will be able to sit with the words of Philip Melanchthon’s prayer from 1553 based upon this passage when the world seemed to be tearing apart then too. See the timelessness of unity in Christ as hope and truth.
O Lord, Jesus Christ, sone of the living God, crucified for us and resurrected, who prayed on earth for us, and prays even now to the eternal Father, saying, “Father, sanctify them in truth. Cause them all to be one, as thou and I art one in love. O Christ we beseech thee, to assist us with this prayer. Gather together and forever keep us in this church. According to thy lovingkindness, shield us.
To hear the seminary choir sing, visit YouTube and search “In Unity and Love” by Nancy Galbraith.
Rev. Carolyn Hetrick
The people of Grace reflect on the One Body of Christ for the 2022 Lenten Devotional. Each day's devotional will be automatically posted so come back daily for a new reflection.