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The Way, The Truth, The Life

07 May 2023

Year A

Sermon By: Rev. Rose Sapp-Bax+

Acts 7:55-60

Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16

1 Peter 2:2-10

John 14:1-14

Sunday Cycle of Prayer

The Church in Wales

St. John the Baptist Church, Orlando

St. Mary of the Angels Church, Orlando

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

If I were to ask you how you feel about the overall condition of our country and even the world for that matter, I can almost predict the responses! When has the world ever felt so crazy? When? Well, let’s look a little closer at today’s gospel lesson. Today’s passage is taken from the account of the last supper, Jesus last opportunity to speak with his disciples before his death - and it appears that there is still much to say.

Jesus has just washed the feet of the disciples, encouraging them to treat others likewise - to BE servants to one another. He has confronted Judas, his betrayer, who has now left the building. Jesus has told the remaining disciples that he will soon be leaving and that they cannot come with him. Then Jesus tells Peter that he will deny him three times before morning.

Can you imagine how confused the disciples must have been? They have spent the last three years following Jesus and now he is about to leave them all alone. Everything they have come to know and believe in - is abandoning them. Talk about uncertain! Crazy? The disciples were far beyond confused. They don’t know what to believe - what to count on!

And so begins today’s passage - “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” A message for the disciples, but just as much - as message for us! Regardless of the circumstances, regardless of the situations of the world - Don’t let your hearts be troubled - Don’t worry! I don’t know how comforting these words were for the disciples, but I find them a bit simplistic - even hard to swallow.

But Jesus continues - Believe in God, believe also in me. What must the disciples have thought? ok - you’re leaving us - we can’t come with you - we are about to be left abandoned here alone, with the Jewish leader threatening our very lives, and your comforting word - your encouragement is ‘believe’. But Jesus promises more. I go to prepare a place for you, he says - a place to dwell with my Father and me - Home - He promises to take us home forever.

What comes to mind when you think of home? Safety? Family? Comfort? Perhaps, you can think of home as not so much a place, as a feeling. That feeling of having all that you need - contentment, fulfillment, Love!

St. Augustine expresses what it means to ‘feel at home’ when he wrote of God - “You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee”. “Restless hearts” While that is not a term I have heard or used often in relationship with God, it sums up how I - and maybe you, too - have felt so often during my life. I called it ‘looking for happiness’ or ‘searching for meaning’. Maybe you had your own term for it. You know, those times in your life when you thought - ‘if only’. If only, I was older, I could . . . . If only, I was younger, I could . . . If only, I could find that perfect job, that perfect spouse; maybe it’s having children that would make me feel complete, or if I just had a little more money, I could do the things I want to do. Then it became, maybe when we get the kids through school, we will have time to relax and enjoy life. Or when we retire . . . No matter what stage of life we find ourselves in - no matter how good or bad the current situation, there seems to always be that ‘if only’.

Even when life is going smoothly - if we ever really experience THAT - but even in the good times, there is often this underlying restlessness. Still this longing to truly find rest - to find home. It is only when we can learn to as St. Augustine says “rest in God” that we can find that place. Here - in this life, those moments are often only that - moments that we can find that - rest in God, before the world comes barging back in. Imagine what it will be like to finally live in that place that Jesus talks about - the place he has prepared for us. To find home - eternal home.

But as the disciples ask - how do we know that way? How do we get there? Jesus answers by saying that they should know the way - the he, Jesus, himself is the way, and the truth, and the life. Our path to that eternal home Jesus is creating for us is Jesus. It is only through Him - his cross - that we are led to the truth that brings us home. Home to eternal life. But there is a surprise! While our relationship with God is ONLY completely fulfilled in our eternal future, we can even now experience a foretaste of what that will be like.

When we follow Jesus, when we pattern our own life after Jesus - when we love one another as Jesus loved us, then the love of God dwells within us. God makes HIS home within us. When we serve others - when we comfort the hurting, when we welcome the outcast, when ALL are welcome at the table, GOD makes His home in us.

Stephen, in our first reading today, found that foretaste as well as the promise of eternal life. We hear that Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit - filled with the very spirit of God - and while he paid the ultimate price for his faith, his reward was the very promise of Jesus - his place in the eternal kingdom of God. As the first deacon, Stephen was an example of what God calls us, as His church to be.

What does that mean for us? If we claim that God is here - in this place, then we must, as HIS church, do as Jesus did - we must serve HIS people - ALL his people. We must feed the hungry, clothe the poor, care for the widows and those in need, we must welcome ALL his people to HIS table. As His people, we should feel most at home when we serve with one another - inside and outside our walls. This should feel like home! We are to be the people who make some sense of this chaotic world. It will take ALL of us - EACH of us. There is a place for everyone!

There was a young girl who wandered away from home and became lost. As she walked the streets of her home town, nothing looked familiar - she could not identify any landmarks. As she began to panic, a police-man found her and placed her in the front seat of his patrol car. They began to drive through the town, hoping to find something that looked familiar to the young girl. Suddenly, she cried out “Stop! You can let me out right here! This is my church, and I can always find my way home from here!”

Today, let us all strive to make this place more like our home - and home for all who are searching for home. May we lead all to ‘the way, the truth and the life’. May we share, with the world, the home that God makes within each of us until we can share the eternal home Jesus is preparing for us.


Photo Credit: Roman Kraft on Unsplash

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