[Jesus said to the disciples:] 1“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. 2 In God’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 Jesus, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to Thomas, “I…am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to God except because of me. 7 If you know me, you will know God also. From now on you do know God and have seen God.”
8 Philip said to Jesus, “Lord, show us God, 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 God. How can you say, ‘Show us God’? 10 Do you not trust that I am in God and God is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but God who dwells in me does these works.
11 Trust me that I am in God and God is in me; but if you do not, then trust in me because of the works themselves. 12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who trusts in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to God. 13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that God may be glorified in the Son. 14 If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
Please pray with me this morning, church:
Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother,
Heavenly Parent of all,
Show us the way.
When we are forgetful, remind us.
Show us yourself.
And walk with us, as we travel this way together.
Church, similar to the past couple of weeks, I’ve got a couple of questions for your reflection. I’d like for you to write these down and sit with them and pray about them, think on them. And if you feel like sharing, put a comment up on Facebook, or comment on youtube, or send me an email. I’m really just trying to offer you something more and something deeper for your personal devotions or spiritual reflections.
This week, I’m wondering, what ways are you following?
How do you know which way to go?
How do you figure out who to follow?
I want to encourage you to reflect on those questions this week.
Write them, journal with them, meditate on them.
What ways are you following?
I’m the type of person who doesn’t always need to have a particular direction. One of the ways I clear my mind is by heading off without any particular destination. I suppose I’m somewhat of a free spirit that way, I’m happy to end up wherever the way takes me.
But once I get to…wherever it is I’m going…I am usually pretty adamant that I want to be able to return from where I came.
When I do have a particular destination in mind, I like very much to know how to get there.
And, I’m pretty decent at it, right? Thank God for GPS and Google Maps.
I also used to be able to do it with a compass, but who knows where that knowledge now lives in my brain… My parents used to keep a Rand McNally atlas in the car. Though not necessarily the most up-to-date thing in the world, and certainly not always the easiest to read and decipher, I could usually do a pretty good job of finding my way with it.
I think our gospel reading this morning is all about figuring out where we’re going.
Maybe more than any other year before, I’ve really been hooked into Thomas’s storyline in this Gospel of John. I’m really identifying with Thomas this year.
Thomas, you’ll remember, from quite a few weeks ago, before Easter, was the one who sort of puzzlingly exclaimed “Let us also go! So that we may die with him!” when Jesus, who had dawdled for a few days, told the disciples that they were headed to Bethany to see Lazarus and Martha and Mary after Lazarus had died.
Also, Thomas, from the Sunday after Easter, is the one who simply wants what all the other disciples got to experience…an encounter with the risen Christ. “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
The reason I think I’m identifying so strongly with Thomas this year is because I think Thomas is really speaking for all of us, especially during these extraordinarily unusual times.
Thomas is zealous—“Let us also go with Jesus! We’ll follow him anywhere!”
Thomas is skeptical—“Show me the proof.”
And this morning, Thomas says the thing that we’re all thinking—“Uhh…actually we don’t know where you’re going, Jesus…so how can we know the way?”
And if Thomas says the thing we’re all thinking this morning, then Jesus’ words are the perfect mix of comfort and confusion that Jesus is so well-known for.
“I…am the way.”
Great! …ahhh……so where are we going…?
In a time of confusion and high anxiety and mounting stress…the question I keep asking myself is “Where does all this go?” Where does this leave us?
Where do we end up?
And friends…I don’t have a good answer for you.
I don’t know what’s next. I don’t know where this ends up. I don’t know if a return from where we came is even desired…much less, possible.
But here’s that comforting part—wherever we’re going…Jesus is the way to get there.
That is to say, perhaps following Jesus is more about how we are along the way than it is about the destination.
That is to say, as long as our journey reflects what we’ve learned from Jesus…we know we’re headed in the right direction. As long as our journey is a way of healing and care and compassion, as long as we’re attentive and responsive to the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalized in our neighborhoods, as long as we stand in solidarity with and fight for the dignity and worth and well-being of the cast-aside and systemically oppressed in our communities…we’re on the right path.
The good news, church, is that Jesus is right…you do know the way. It’s the way you’ve learned since you were much younger. It’s the way you’ve been taught by mothers and step-mothers and grand-mothers and other motherly and parental figures, all of whom we remember and celebrate today. That’s really the way of parenting, isn’t it? To teach your young ones to follow closely…closely to you, close to Jesus… Church, it’s the way we lift up every week we gather together.
Following Jesus is that way.
It’s so simple. And so difficult, all at the same time.
We may not know exactly where we’re going.
But we do know who goes with us.
Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus is our companion on our journey.
Like the sheep of God’s pasture, Jesus is our shepherd, our guide, and our safety.
Our destination may be unclear, but Jesus dwells in God, and in Jesus, God dwells with us.
Our home…our dwelling place, our place of abiding…is in God.
Trust in this truth.
Have faith in this good news.