Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

John 14:1-14

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father’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? 3And 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.

4And you know the way to the place where I am going.” 5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 8Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” 9Jesus 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 the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves.

12Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

This week's text was on part of what is commonly known as the "Farewell Discourse." In rural Missouri, this text is used as a farewell in more ways than one, as it is one of the more common funeral texts you hear in these parts. But in short, Jesus is trying to get his disciples to understand that although He knows His death is imminent, He will never leave them totally.

I got to thinking about how the Farewell Discourse is really not much different in many ways than how any of us would be if we knew we only had a short time to live. We would want our friends and loved ones to know we will find each other borrow from the last song in West Side Story, “There's a place for us, A time and place for us. Hold my hand and we're halfway there, hold my hand and I'll take you there...Somehow...someday...somewhere!”

I think death loses just a little bit of its sting when we think that someone who loves us will clear us an easier path to that shadow walk to the place where light perpetual shines upon us. It makes the scarier parts of that easier knowing a loved one has led us to it.

When my grandmother was about two weeks from dying, I remember one of the nurses at Loch Haven in Macon asking me, “Who’s J.R.?” I said, “Whaddya mean?” She continued, “Well, your grandmother was telling me that even though she’s kind of afraid of ‘that dying thing’ as she put it, she said she was looking forward to seeing Bobby and Richard and J.R.”

I started laughing. “Well,” I said, “Bobby is my grandpa and Richard was their son...but J.R. is the DOG I had that died about 7 years ago. I’m glad J.R. is held in such high esteem!”

But that thought, oddly enough, became a great comfort to me in the 36 or so hours that it took her to finally slip away and die. I thought of my grandmother heading down this shadowy tunnel into a place of light, with the tunnel echoing with J.R.’s happy bark echoing in the tunnel, urging her to come on and see what he found for her! (There are lots of things in the Bible that have me dead convinced that my dogs will be with me in Heaven, and although we’ll all be transformed somehow, I will know who they are...but that is a blurb in itself!)

Verses 6-14 are very convoluted to me, and I think this is where the fundies and I part company. But I think Jesus is trying to explain a very hard topic in light of the times. Prior to Christ, all good Jews knew the law trumps everything. To be deserving of Paradise, you had to observe and keep the law. But I don’t think Jesus is saying, “You have to believe in me to go to heaven,” I think he’s saying, “This is more than just obeying the law. This is about the trust we have in each other. Hey, you think God’s within me, right? Then believe that, and act in a way that honors that belief. And even when you’re sure that’s not what this all means, believe in the truth of the good things and the miracles that happen in my name. When you can’t wrap your mind around this supernatural stuff, believe in the reality of the good you see that happens in my name. If you can do that, and live like that, even greater miracles can happen through you.”

So in this sense, it’s not so much a “Farewell discourse” as it is a trail of breadcrumbs. If we just follow the trail of breadcrumbs Jesus left us in his life, we will become closer to God, even in this world—then maybe the next one is not quite so scary!



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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