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Archive for May, 2015

Strange Revolution: Reflection on John 14:1-6

A short reflection given at Taize on Sunday night.

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As I reflected on tonight’s passage, the words of a Martyn Joseph came to mind: It’s a strange way to start a revolution. To get a sense of the strangeness of Jesus’ ways, let’s take a quick look at what happens prior to this passage. Jesus and his disciples have finished eating together – the last meal they will have together before Jesus dies.

He then prepares his disciples for what is going to happen in the coming days – and it isn’t pretty. One of the disciples will betray Jesus and even Peter will deny him three times. Jesus will be going to a place that his disciples cannot follow. I can imagine the fear, confusion and despair that the disciples might have felt. It’s a strange way to spend the last few hours amongst friends and a strange way to say goodbye.

In the midst of their fear and confusion, Jesus says “Do not let your heart be troubled.” If I were in the room at the time, I would have thought that that was a strange instruction after Jesus had just finished telling us every reason to be troubled: that he was going to leave us and our little community would betray Jesus and each other. The world as they knew it was about to change.

Jesus tells his disciples to believe in God and in himself. He is going to prepare a place for his disciples. In Martyn’s words – it’s a “strange way to say, ‘I’ll see you later’”. I’m not sure heaven or eternity would have been on the disciples’ minds as they hear that their beloved leader would be leaving them.

But this is not the first time Jesus has talked about leaving them. In fact, we can see threads of this “strange way” throughout the Gospel of John. Jesus has told the pharisees that he is with them only for a little while. He has foretold his death and the time when the Son of Man will be glorified. This wasn’t news for the disciples. But here, Jesus tells them that it is necessary to leave them – for their sake. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

As I first read this passage, I couldn’t help but echo Martyn’s words – a “Strange way to bring us hope.” But Jesus can see the eternal picture. Jesus must follow the way of the cross in order to prepare a place where his disciples and followers can live eternally in the presence of God the Father.

I appreciate Thomas’ honest question – “Lord, we do not know where you are going, how do we know the way?” There are so many times in my life that I do not understand what God is telling me let alone where and what He is calling me to be. I’m guessing that Thomas wasn’t the only disciple in the room wondering what to do with all Jesus had told them. After all, Jesus’ death on a cross was a “strange way to start a revolution”.

Here I imagine Jesus lovingly gazing into Thomas’ eyes and saying, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” The way of Jesus is the cross. The way of the disciples is Jesus. As we follow Jesus through the way of the cross, we find eternal life. In the midst of the fear and confusion of this world, we will have our eyes fixed on the eternal home that Jesus has prepared for us and the awesome privilege of forever dwelling in the presence of God the Father.

It is here that I see the hope and comfort of Jesus’ words – Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In the words of Martyn Joseph again, here we see a “strange dissident of meekness” become the “nurse of tangled souls”. Jesus’ revolution begins with the humble way of the cross and in his meekness, he cares for the confused, scared, and broken souls of this world by preparing a place in the presence of God and giving eternal life.

As we follow in the seemingly strange way of Jesus, may we believe in God and not let our hearts be troubled.

The Work that is to Be

Supermoon 2013

Supermoon 2013

Some of my readers know that there has been a significant change in my life. On Sunday, I was commissioned and prayed for as I began a 3 month full time placement  – 2 credit internship at a church. The location hasn’t changed – I’m still worshiping at the same church and running a youth drop-in at another church building that is now part of the parish. I’m still doing many of the same tasks, thinking about the same things and filling my time as I usually do. There are extra things I need to do (like preaching and other churchy things). I’m actually working more or less the same hours too.

Yet this is a significant change for several reasons. First, I am moving forward and closer to what God has called me to be and do. In a couple of months, I will be two credits closer to a Masters of Divinity. Second, I am accountable to my supervisor, the church leadership, the congregation and my school in a different way. This doesn’t (hopefully!) impact how I conduct myself in terms of morality. But I am not used to having so many eyes – and scheduled conversations and evaluations – as I go about doing my work. I think this is ultimately healthier – but it’s different. Third (can you tell I’ve been writing academic papers lately???), I’m officially full time.

This last one has been on my mind a lot. I’m officially full time. Before May, I was unofficially full time by choice. But if I wanted to take a day or two or three off, I could and no one would care – or likely even notice. It meant that if I needed to attend to health, to rest longer, to hang out with the family upstairs I could. Now it’s a little different. Of course there are more than 40 hours in the week. But some of those hours are taken up with sleeping, housework and errands, commuting, teaching piano and other things. It’s not quite the same!

Today has been a full day. Admin work, meetings, piano student, another meeting. It was a day when I “switched hats” several times. I worked hard and diligently – with a small to do list left for the end of the day.

But I am tired. It is night time and I must sleep. That to do list must wait until tomorrow. The little voice that lives in my head tried to persuade me otherwise. And then I read compline from the Northumbria Community.

Father, bless the work that is done,
and the work that is to be.

The work is not done. But the day is done.

Now it is time for sleep – entrusting all that has – and has not been done in God’s hands.