Potsdam United Methodist Church
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The Way

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The Way

Christian W. Remick, May 18, 2014

John 14:1-14

A few years ago my sister and her husband rented a house on Rehoboth Beach in Delaware and invited Dad and I to spend a few days with them. So Dad and I packed up and headed south. As I was driving on a highway somewhere in Pennsylvania, I realized I really didn't know where I was.

I had been relying on my GPS and it was working fine telling me the next turn and all but the screen was so small and only covers a small area. I had looked at maps before leaving so I had a general idea of the roads I would be on and regions I would pass through, but having relied on the GPS I had lost track of time and since I had never been this way before, I could not visualize the map in my head, and pinpoint where I really was.

Have you ever done that? I know our minds work differently, and we don't always process things the same way, but for me when I travel; I have a little map in my head and can see with my mind's eye pretty close to where I am.

On my trip through Pennsylvania, I couldn't do it, I couldn't see myself on the map, and it scared me a little. It scared me that I didn't know where I was. I knew if the GPS failed I could go buy a map, usually I keep an atlas in the car but this time I'd forgotten it, so for the first time in a long time I felt geographically lost. And it was disconcerting to say the least.

Knowing the route, knowing the towns, terrain, waterways all contribute to our comfort when travelling.

Last week we heard about how the sheep know the shepherd's voice and how the shepherd knows each sheep by name. As the sheep and the shepherd build their relationship, the sheep are less likely to wander off or be drawn astray by thieves or bandits who would exploit them or hurt them.

The shepherd's job is to know the sheep and teach them the voice they must follow. The shepherd feeds, waters, and comforts the sheep. When they wander the shepherd finds them and brings them home.

Today we continue the section in John known as the "Farewell Passages" Liturgically as we progress through the Christian year we are at the 5th Sunday after Easter. Holy Week, Easter Sunday, the Last Supper, the Arrest, Trial, Crucifixion, and Resurrection have all happened.

The lectionary however takes us back to that final week where Jesus works to prepare the disciples for all that will come. Jesus is explaining that he will be going away soon but that the disciples will find him he will even prepare a place specifically for them in his holy kingdom, Jesus promises to return for them but assures them that they already know the way.

Thomas is confused. Give us directions. What way are you going? How will we find you?

But Jesus is very clear here. You will know the way because you know me and I am the way. Furthermore, Peter, the way to the father is through me since I am the father.

In the context of this discourse, Jesus needs to prepare these men and women who have given up everything to follow him. He needs to prepare them for the total collapse of their world which is about to come to an end. Jesus knows that from their perspective, he will be dead and they will be lost. To follow him, they have left their livelihoods, homes, and families. They have turned their backs on their established Jewish faith and accepted this new teacher as the promised messiah. And soon all their hopes will be crushed. But Jesus offers them new hope.

Much like the people Peter is addressing in our first passage, they are still somewhat, "Like newborn infants, longing for the pure, spiritual milk"

Jesus' words are reassuring; I am not leaving you alone. You know me and that knowledge makes us one. Because you know me and I and the father are one, you are also one with the father. Later he talks about the Advocate or Holy Spirit who the father will send to guide and instruct. The spirit will abide in those who know the spirit.

Knowing Jesus, Knowing the Father, Knowing the Spirit are the keys to building the relationship God has called us to since the beginning.

The world can be a difficult place to navigate. And I'm not just talking about the Pennsylvania Turnpike or Rt. 1 through Delaware.

As citizens of this country and planet we are bombarded with choices of how to best use our resources. And our resources are constantly challenged. Our physical, emotional and spiritual resources are challenged as much as our time and financial resources. And while there are good times and bad, we must remember to stay on the foundation of our relationship with God, the Son, and the Spirit.

As Jesus continues his farewell in the gospel of John, he reminds us that he leaves us with a peace that is only his. John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid."

That peace is found in the way that Is Jesus. And it is a way that is abiding deep in each of us. As we follow the way we stay firm and true in this peace and our relationship with God is made stronger and stronger. As sheep we will not be lead astray. Because we know the shepherd's voice. As disciples our collective efforts and actions - done in the name of our cornerstone - will strengthen us to as Jesus says, "Do the works that I do and, in fact, do greater works than these"

Just as bees are honed to the hive and migrating birds are drawn to feeding and nesting grounds, Jesus calls us into the holiest of relationships that is always there for us.

The light of the world shines brightly all around us and through us, guiding our way, encouraging us, and leading us deeper into the peace that can only come from great, "I Am"

Let us pray:

God, you came to us in the most personal form of your son Jesus who taught us, ate with us, even the least of us, washed our feet, and died for us and for our sins. By your example we have seen the way and the way is in us. Bring forth your way in all that we do and say. Let your way guide our thoughts and especially our actions and words. Teach us to see you in others and help us work together following the way toward the Holy transformation of the world. Amen.

-- Live to transform the world as God sees it.