This Week's Focus: "Our Way Home"
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 Dear Friends,
The theme of John’s gospel is always the divinity of Jesus. Nevermore so than in this week’s passage… one of Christ’s last lessons before the Crucifixion. We reflect on it now, during the Easter season, because it is a prediction that only makes sense in the context of the Resurrection. Before this, Jesus had hinted about leaving the disciples, but now he tells them clearly: I go now to prepare a place for you.

This bombshell gets their attention. In a flash, Thomas and Philip are all: Hey, wait a minute. You’re going where? To do what?

To make a point, Jesus often uses Peter in the role of “everyman.” He is good-hearted and very biddable. By contrast, Thomas is “everyman with an attitude.” He is the perennial skeptic. He needs convincing. Philip is another story. He is Johnny-on-the-spot… receptive, helpful, eager to please.

In framing this dialogue, first with doubting Thomas and then with fervent Philip, Jesus is boxing the compass of personalities. He is showing us that there are many dwelling places in his Father’s house. There is room for Peters and Thomas’s and Phillips… and by extension, there is room for all of us. We were never meant to be cookie-cutter Christians. We are all called to follow Christ, but not in lock-step.

For the same reason that this gospel is an Easter message, it is a perennial for funeral services. It puts life and the after-life in perspective as one whole life. It is an orientation class on where we are, where we are going, and how to get there. It comforts. It inspires. It instructs: Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me… I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

The Resurrection is the payoff to this promise. Jesus is pointing our way home. He is telling us: There are tough times ahead. But don’t be afraid. Trust me. The Father and I are one. Stick with me and I will stick with you. Follow me. And I will take you home.

This gospel raises some challenging questions: What’s all this going home stuff about? Our senses tell us that right here, right now is the only home we know. But Jesus is telling us that this is not our home. Sure, we have roots. We have an address. We have family and friends. But we are not home. Like passengers on a jet aircraft, our surroundings appear to be stable, when in fact we are hurtling through space in thin aluminum and plastic tube.

This life is a passage, not a destination. The passage may be first-class with fine wines and filet-mignon. Or it may be super-saver-economy: squalid, cramped, uncomfortable… without even a bag of peanuts. But, whatever the amenities of your life, never mistake this passage for home. And because we are not home, Christian life this side of the grave was never meant to be in repose. We are on a “faith journey.” We are “pilgrims.” We “follow the Lord.” Spiritually, emotionally, mentally…we are constantly on the move… day by day, making our way home.
Sometimes we stumble. Sometimes we plod. But whatever our gait… with our faces to the Lord… every day we soar. His love sustains us. It draws us on. Jesus wants all of us… the good, the bad, and the ugly. In fact, he has already left the ugliest part of us on the cross. Knowing our every flaw, he loved us in our sins before time began. He loved us in his torment. And now, he loves us in his risen glory.

When we falter, he is there. He is the hope that lifts us up and calls us on… calls us to take up our own crosses… to suffer our own Calvary’s… to come home in our own resurrections. Jesus tells us he is the way for an awesome, yet obvious reason. He and the Father are one. For our redemption… for our instruction… he is the love of God, the moving force of the universe… made flesh… made into the exact same carbon-based organism that we inhabit… subject to the same appetites, the same flaws, and failings. What better way to show us how to follow him... than becoming one of us?

His way is simple… yet profound. In the face of all: Love God and neighbor. Actively, deliberately, constantly… make living Christ’s love the purpose of your life… the way you face every obstacle… the way you embrace every opportunity. Live Christ’s love… here and now… and you’ll be halfway home already.

Alleluia! He is risen.

God love you!

A Reflection for
Fifth Sunday of Easter
©The Reverend Canon David F. Sellery

Copyright © 2020 David Sellery, All rights reserved.

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