A House with Many Mansions

John 14:1-14

14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

 

Do you ever have those weeks in which mentally and emotionally you feel like you have been on a roller coaster? This has been one of those weeks for me. I have felt tremendous joy and laughed so hard I had tears coming and could not catch my breath. But I have also been so mad that I let the big daddy of them all fly, in every part of speech possible. I have been saddened and depressed about the loss of life not just because of Covid 19 but for Ahmaud Arbery who was gunned down in Georgia because he was a black kid jogging in a white neighborhood. No one has been charged and no one has been arrested (as of now 5/7/20).

Maybe I am tired, but I feel rested. Maybe I am afraid of what lies ahead, and that might be the biggest thing—fear. Where are we going and what does this all mean to us right here in Morgan County? Morgan County is one of the biggest “hotspots” in the state. Yet, there are so many positives about this little corner of the world, but at times I lose sight of them because I am afraid. I am afraid of what might happen to our churches because of not gathering like we used to. I am afraid that I might not be able to keep up with the challenges of ministry and making church more accessible to people beyond these walls. I didn’t sign up to put productions together, I signed up to lead worship and be a pastor to the people. Yet the church is moving in new and different ways. More people are participating in worship because it is so readily accessible. Friends of our churches who have moved away are tuning in. Every pastor I talk to comments how the church is changing and evolving in our midst. God is on the move and we can move with God or we need to get out of the way because the Spirit’s will is happening.

Then I become grounded again and the roller coaster takes a different twist and I read the words, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” This passage from the gospel of John is from the section that is known as the final discourse of Jesus. At the end of chapter 13 Jesus tells the disciples that he is willing to lay down his life for them. “Do not let your hearts be troubled” is an assurance that because they have left everything to follow Jesus, he will do everything that he asks them to do as well. Through this protection is a home in which Jesus goes and prepares a personal place for all of us.

This familiar passage which is often quoted at memorial services, reminds us of the place in which we can call home when we depart this world. But I admit that the reason I have used this passage several times is it point us to hope for today. Not just hope for life eternal, but hope that we can make it to the next day, and the day after that. Two characters help bring this passage to life for all of us.

Thomas again is the first on the stage. Jesus says he is going to prepare a place for them all and that they know how to get there. Thomas who is the most inquisitive of the bunch says, no Jesus we have no idea what you are talking about. Thomas is truly thinking only in the moment. He can not imagine a world with Jesus not in it. The house Jesus refers to is made with sticks or bricks and that is all there is to it. This again is how we perceive the world that has us on the roller coaster today.

I spoke in Wednesday’s Hump Day refection from 1 Peter was about buildings being material and living stones. How buildings are not where the Holy Spirit resides, not brick and mortar. The Spirit lives in the human hearts and the people are the building blocks of the church. Jesus is trying to get Thomas to see the same thing.  There is hope in this world and it can be found in Jesus. That’s why Jesus responds, “I AM, the way and the truth and the life..”

I am statement

Way= path or journey to a deeper relationship, think of a guide for hunting or fishing

Truth= moral and spiritual teachings

Life= abundance, new opportunities, plentiful living

Next character up is Philip. He is a little more diplomatic than Thomas, but he says, “Lord” kind of in a schmoozing way, “show us the father and we will be satisfied.” (v.8) I have imagined a couple different looks on the face of Jesus when Philip says this. The first is shock and awe. Like really dude I have been running around all of Galilee like a chicken with my head chopped off healing every man and woman I see, making the pharisees and the regular church crowd more mad than a bunch of murdering hornets, walking on water and calming the sea not mention feeding more mouths than you can shake two fish and five loaves of bread at and you want me to show you the Father? And then I think that’s probably how Mike Gross would respond and not Jesus.

The way Jesus probably responded was with a little grin and maybe even a wink and said, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (v.9) The relationship that Jesus has with the Father is one we all long for. The closeness that nothing occurs separate between the two. God’s will is completed in the ministry of Jesus. The revelation of God’s love for us is accomplished in the signs and wonders that Jesus does and yet, is ultimately accomplished on the cross.

This Mother’s Day we seek familial relationships. We want to have perfect relationships in our families. Yet, we will never be perfect in our relationships. The one that Jesus and God has is perfection. But that does not mean we can’t work towards reconciliation. All of our families have areas we can work on. Love is still revealed in the family setting. Maybe it is work that needs to be done with parents or children or even grandchildren, but we all can seek a place where everyone is welcome in the same house.

One big happy house to share God’s love sounds like it could get messy. But when we allow God’s love to be revealed and truly seek God’s will, then we can do even greater works than Jesus. Imagine a place where all are welcome to come and share a meal, to tell stories and relax in the arms of the Lord. These days are filled with emotional roller coasters, and yet they can also be days in which we celebrate the messiness. Days that are filled with looking out for one another, caring for those in our midst with words and deeds of kindness. We are called to do better. May we seek the way, and the truth and the life that is filled with abundance. Amen.

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