By Pastor Rob
The last and longest recorded prayer of Jesus immediately followed the Last Supper. As Jesus begins this prayer the events that end with His death on the cross are already in motion. Jesus has delivered His farewell address and eaten His final meal with His disciples. Judas likely had the cold silver coins of betrayal safely tucked in his robe. And a mob, armed with swords, clubs, and torches, was gathering to make their way to the Garden.
This is the hour that the Lamb of God would offer Himself as our perfect sacrifice. But before all of that, Jesus stopped to intercede for us as our Great High Priest.
In John 17, Jesus prays for Himself, His disciples, and also for “those who will believe in Me” (v. 20). That’s us. We know Jesus was fully God, so time was nothing to Him. He could see across centuries and pray about things He knew His Church and all future believers would need.
Jesus prayed three particular things for us:
• For the oneness of His people. (vv.21-23)
• That those who belong to Him may one day actually be with Him and behold His glory. (v.24)
• For us, a deeper revelation of God leading to a deeper love for God. (vv.25-26)
He is praying this still. Holy Week has passed on the church calendar, but Jesus is still alive and well and interceding on our behalf. Romans 8:34 says that at this very moment Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God, mediating and interceding for us. Robert McCheyne offers this beautiful perspective on that biblical truth: “If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.”
P.S. A huge thank you to our entire staff and many volunteers for creating spaces for the name of Jesus to be exalted to the highest place during our Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter services! I’m honored to work with such a dedicated and gifted group of people. I’m blessed to serve a church that is fueled by the Spirit and motivated by the Gospel.
While many of us have known this was coming, it’s still hard to make the news official: Mary Elzinga will be retiring from her position as Director of Women’s Ministry the end of June. Mary’s husband Paul is also retiring from his role as a Senior Scientist for Bristol Myers Squib. Following their retirements, they anticipate moving back to Michigan to care for Paul’s aging parents.
Mary has served in this role as a volunteer for 6 years and as a member of staff for another 8. In addition to overseeing and facilitating women’s groups and programs, Mary has also provided - uniquely, effectively, and in ever increasing ways - care to the entire church body, and input and insight to our staff, leadership, and to many ministries at Covenant.
Mary writes in her retirement letter, “I would like to thank the leadership and members of Covenant for welcoming me and my family into your lives. I have learned so much from doing life with you. I have been changed for the better because of our desire to seek, love, and serve the Lord together. Indeed, you have loved me well, and we shared not just the gospel of Jesus Christ but our lives, and now you have become very dear to me. As Paul and I head out on a new adventure following the Lord, know always, that you will be held in our hearts and our prayers as He who began a good work in you, faithfully brings it to completion.”
I know you join me in expressing deep appreciation for Mary – her person and her ministry among us. The fruit of her labor in and through the Lord extend far and run deep. I will sorely miss her as a friend, colleague, and partner in crime, but I’m excited for what the Lord has planned and prepared next for Mary and Paul. Over the next three months we will look for ways to send them off with our thanks, our prayers, and the Lord’s blessing!
With the announcement of this transition, we will immediately begin a search to fill two new part-time staff positions. Our plan is to fill both positions with gifted and qualified women. If you, or someone you know, is interested in learning more or applying for either position, please contact me at email@example.com or Josh Bundy at firstname.lastname@example.org.