What work have you finished? What work do you have yet to do? As we round the bend in the church year where ascension appears, the question of the work we put down and pick up-as persons, as a church-presents itself to our hearts and mind. We will pick up and put down much work in our lives. What Work is God giving us, giving you now? To finish and to hand on to others.

Jesus speaks of the work he has finished and the work he hands on to us in today’s gospel reading. He speaks of his work, his vocation, the work given to him by his father, as he prays over his disciples. It is a prayer spoken over us as well.

Jesus prays to his father and over the disciples with great love and devotion. He does so as he prepares to put down his work on earth and to leave the disciples, so that they might grow and mature into the church, the called-out ones, the body of Christ in the world God desires them to be. They don’t know what shape their life and work together will take, where God will send them, how God will transform them in the process. Jesus prays over them that God protect these ones whom he has walked beside, and accompanied in the mistake laden process of learning how to bring a work to its readiness and completion. As he prays, Jesus speaks of his work. “Father, I have glorified you while I was on the earth by finishing, bringing to its fullness or perfection, finishing the work you gave to me.” Jesus’ work is that by which he glorifies God.

For Jesus truly has finished this work: glorifying God on earth by letting the life that was in him on earth and also in eternity, become available to us, in our lives here and now. This is the work given to him. Jesus has finished it, not in the sense of checking it and chucking it, -phew glad I got that gutter cleaned-but in the sense of completing a work that is given on, given out, in order to work, to be enjoyed, to be used well, or to be lived within. A marine mechanic finished a massive diesel engine, whose piston turn over and over countlessly, to drive a steel boat that now ferries people to work, to doctor’s appointments, and back home. Ladies and men at a church finish quilts with great care and skill to warm and embrace people in need of encouragement and hope. A carpenter’s crew work together to found, frame and finish a home. A teacher envisions and oversees what a learner’s mind and heart need, in order to be ready and to finish the preparation needed to be launch into the world. When such works are finished, they have only begun the work of serving life.

And since Jesus has finished his work, he has put it down. Life in Christ, in communion with one another thru Christ and the daily presence of the Holy spirit, they open us to eternal life, living the presence of God with us here and now. Our Spirit-enlightened hearts will guide us to our work for today, and the next. This work lets us live with God and let the light of God’s life in us shine for others. You might be a 20-year-old discerning the shape of God’s mission and vocation in your life. What can I get done? You might be a 40-year-old finding yourself in one of life’s dark woods or at one of life’s crossroads. Or just out of gas. And the question of work arises: where are you God? what do I more truly know of my vocation? What makes me, and with me others, come alive? Or you might be 80. You’ve worked at jobs, careers, you’ve raised children, seen joys and sorrows. And you wonder-God, I’ve done a lot, some of it I have finished. What yet would you give me to finish, in this time you have also given me? There are fruitful ways yet to share your wisdom, listen and gently tend other souls with your own, care the poor and the created order, reflect upon what memories and dreams bear to you at midnight, and generally let go, so the Spirit grows you gentler.

You will know the work, for it will connect you and others to a sense of eternal life. You will know it as something in which you can live and move and learn and help others to also discover the shape of their life with God. You will take it up and you will put it down.