John 17:1-26

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
“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.”

Bill, Go-To-Guy for Computers and Video

Bill and Fran and their young son Robert showed up one Sunday twelve years ago and made an impact on our congregation right away. They came to serve, and Fran and Robert have continued to serve since Bill’s death from congestive heart failure. Christian love isn’t about emotion. It is choosing to serve as Christ first served us and gave His life a ransom for many. That’s the new commandment He gives us.

Bill was a computer guy, He had several techies working with him, and they took care of the computers for most of the larger churches in town. Before long, Bill had his home-schooled son Robert up on a ladder at St. Matthew’s pulling new wires, installing new routers, a new server, a Sonic Wall (firewall), and upgrading our computers and software. Bill installed a video camera in the nave and made it possible to record worship services. Afterwards, he would compress the recordings, so that they could be uploaded to our website. We were suddenly in the 21st century technologically.

Sunday mornings before the 11 a.m. service, Bill would sit down in front of monitor in the workroom, open the program, test the camera and sound, and make sure all was ready to record. Our little girl looked forward to stopping by and being greeted warmly by another Mr. Bill. He would always greet me with a boisterous: “Pastore!” Watching for Bill Glisson to begin playing the prelude, Bill was ready to go.

Bill and Fran made sure that Robert was at St. Matthew’s several days a week: for church and Sunday School, for Confirmation on Wednesdays, and for Boy Scouts on Thursdays. Fran introduced holiday dinners at St. Matthew’s and also provided soup meals in Lent and, once Robert began college, she cooked a weekly meal for college students on Wednesdays. St. Matthew’s became their home, and they became integral to so many good things that came our way. They understood and understand that Christian love means serving. As Harry Wendt, the Crossways Bible Study author, says: “We do feet!”

The late Jim Mees had drawn up plans and was the driving force behind the Memorial Garden. Robert’s Eagle Scout project added the pergola at the entrance and the memorial brick walkway around the inside perimeter. It was a labor of love which many joined with Robert to complete. We had a beautiful rededication just past Easter that year. The number of those choosing to have their ashes buried in the Memorial Garden went up after Robert did such a fine job on the project. As of this writing, 38 of the saints are buried there.

The next winter did not go well for Bill. His health deteriorated and his mental acuity declined more and more due to getting less oxygen to the brain. He made some very poor decisions that a clear-thinking man would not have done. By Christmas, he was doing very poorly, and shortly thereafter he ended up in the intensive care unit. When we visited, he was unable to speak, but he knew his family and his pastor were there. When he saw Fran and Robert, he patted his heart to say: “I love you.” Less than a year after the Memorial Garden rededication, Bill’s ashes were buried there in that place his beloved son had worked so hard to improve. A brick with Bill’s name was added to the walkway. A small brass nameplate was also added to the first memorial plaque in the narthex.

Thank you, Father, for Bill, and for all those dear servants, who receive little recognition in this life, yes, those whom you have claimed by their Baptism into Your Son’s death and resurrection. So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Put forty-four pennies, nickels, or dimes in a bowl or box today to help to buy farm animals to help the global poor to make a sustainable living.

Pastor Samuel D. Zumwalt, STS

St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church

Wilmington, North Carolina

The Daily Readings are from English Standard Version, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers