|Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany||February 4, 2018||The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||Isaiah 40:21-31; Mark 1:29-39|
|Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany||January 28, 2018||Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||Mark 1:21-28, Psalm 111|
|Third Sunday after the Epiphany||January 21, 2018||Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||Jonah 3:1-5,10;Psalm 62:6-14;1 Corinthians 7:29-31;Mark 1:14-20|
|Second Sunday after the Epiphany||January 14, 2018||Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||John 1:43-51|
|The Eve of the Nativity||December 24, 2017||Eve of the Nativity, Year B||Luke 2:1-14(15-20)|
|Second Sunday in Advent, Year B||December 10, 2017||Second Sunday of Advent, Year B||Isaiah 40:1-11, 2 Peter 3:8-15a, Mark 1:1-8, Psalm 85:1-2,8-13|
|First Sunday in Advent, Year B||December 3, 2017||First Sunday of Advent, Year B||Mark 13:24-37|
|Christ the King, Year A||November 26, 2017||Christ the King Year A||Matthew 25:31-46|
|Thanksgiving, Year A||November 22, 2017||Thanksgiving, Year A||Psalm 65|
|Twenty Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||November 19, 2017||Proper 24, Year A||Matthew 25:36-37|
|Twenty Third Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||November 12, 2017||Proper 27, Year A||Matthew 25:1-13|
|All Saints, Year A||November 5, 2017||All Saints’ Day, Year A||Matthew 5:1-12|
|Twenty First Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||October 29, 2017||Proper 25, Year A||Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18; Matthew 22:34-46|
|Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||October 22, 2017||Proper 24, Year A||Isaiah 45:1-7, Psalm 96, I Thessalonians 1:1-10, Matthew 22:15-22|
|Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||October 15, 2017||Proper 23, Year A||Isaiah 25:1-9, Psalm 23, Philippians 4:1-9, Matthew 22:1-14|
Easter 5, Year A
Sermon Date:May 14, 2017
Scripture: John 14:1-14
Liturgy Calendar: Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year A
"Many Rooms"- Jan Richardson
In today’s gospel, Jesus, knowing that he will soon give up his life on the cross, is talking to his downhearted and fearful disciples, who are beginning to realize that their situation is desperate.
Remember, these people gave up their former lives and their homes to follow Jesus because they believed that Jesus would make the reign of God on earth a reality.
But now they have to come to grips with the fact that their idea of who the Messiah is and what they thought he would do is completely different from what is really happening. Jesus is going to die. The world order of Roman rule will remain in place. The disciples will no longer have the security of their former homes or the companionship of Jesus. So no wonder they feel as if Jesus is going to abandon them.
So Jesus says these comforting words to them.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In 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? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and I will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place I am going.”
Let’s leave the disciples for the time being and think about our own lives.
How often our hearts are troubled.
You can probably think of many times in your life when you were full of anxiety, when everything you had expected changed in front of your eyes, and you were left asking the same question Thomas asked of Jesus when Thomas hears these words of comfort.
“But Lord, we don’t know where we’re going. How can we know the way?”
How do we manage to get through the anxious times in our lives when what we expected isn’t what happens, and we can’t see the way ahead or figure out how to get back to the familiarity of the homes we left behind?
A woman named Sarah Churchill faced this very dilemma when she gave birth to her third child, a daughter named Yomi. Yomi and Sarah shared their story with StoryCorps recently.
At her birth, Yomi’s skull, ribs, wrists and arms were all broken and doctors told Sarah that her daughter had a rare genetic disorder known as osteogenesis imperfecta, which causes bones to break under the slightest pressure.
The doctors told Sarah that her child would probably not last out the night, and the best thing to do would be to leave the baby behind in the hospital.
But Sarah was not about to leave her newborn child behind. In the days following Yomi’s birth, Sarah stayed at the hospital, spending every night holding her baby as she rocked her in a hospital rocking chair.
She told Yomi that “I remember that our hearts touched each other. We have one heart, you and I.”
Yomi will turn 45 years old this month. Growing up and living with a genetic disorder hasn’t been easy, but Yomi says that her mother’s love has kept her strong. Yomi often thinks about what happened on the day she was born. The doctors told her mother that Yomi would be a burden if the family took her home. But her mother chose to take her home anyway.
Sarah tells Yomi that Yomi was a part of her, and she knows that she made the right decision to take Yomi home.
Yomi wishes that she could have had her own children to pass on this legacy of love that her mother gave to her by choosing to take Yomi home and love her and help her to live a full life despite her disorder.
Like this faithful and loving mother, Sarah, who loved her daughter and took her home, even with all her broken bones, Jesus does the same thing for all of us.
Jesus holds us, in our fragile brokenness, close to his heart, God’s own heart. And Jesus brings us home to God, over and over in our lives, no matter how big a burden we may seem to be.
Even when we can’t see Jesus, or feel his presence, even when we question him, or push Jesus away, Jesus wants to pick our broken bodies up, hold us close, and bring us home. Jesus is always preparing our dwelling place with him. And he will come and take us to himself, so that where he is, there we may be also.
Jesus will bring us home.
John O’Donohoe, who writes about Celtic spirituality, points out in his Celtic Pilgrimage DVD that we watched as part of our program at Shrine Mont that having a home to return to strengthens us for the long journey.
In the DVD, O’Donohoe describes his experience of meeting an old man who had moved to New York City from Ireland as a teenager, and had never gone back to Ireland. And yet, this old man could recite, as if he were praying, the long list of fields in which he had worked as a child, and the names of those fields back home had brought him comfort throughout his life’s journey, which had taken him far from home. The names of those fields comforted him in the land of exile.
And Jeff Packard, who was one of the retreat leaders, asked this question of us. “What is it that you carry with you from home that comforts you in your own “land of exile?”
As Christians, our homes are in the heart of God, the home from which we came, and the home to which we will return.
And what we carry with us throughout our lives from that home in the heart of God is the love of Jesus, a love so strong that it will never let us go.
The very name of Jesus breathes love.
And when we can draw that love in, God’s love wraps around us like loving arms. It sinks into us, like the warmth of the sun after a long spell of gloomy weather. And holding us in love, God calms our deepest fears.
God’s love heals us, and makes us whole. And even in the worst of times, when we are far from home, we can find ourselves back at home in God’s love, if only we can remember that Jesus is always taking us to our true home, our home in the heart of God.
Last Sunday was Good Shepherd Sunday, and both here and at Shrine Mont we sang that beautiful hymn that is a paraphrase of the 23rd Psalm by the great hymn writer Isaac Watts—“My Shepherd will supply my need.”
The last verse of that hymn is all about being at home in God. Please take out your hymn books and turn to Hymn 664, and let’s sing that last verse together as a closing prayer to this this sermon.
Take these words with you as you leave this place today, and may they comfort you, take away your anxiety, and remind you not to let your hearts be troubled, because you are already home.
“The sure provisions of my God attend me all my days;
Oh, may thy house be mine abode and all my work be praise.
There would I find a settled rest, while others go and come;
no more a stranger or a guest, but like a child at home.” Amen.
“A Celtic Pilgrimage with John O’Donohue.” SoundsTrue, 2009, New Perspectives Productions.
Hymnal 1982, “My Shepherd will supply my need,” H 664. Text by Isaac Watts. Hymn tune, Resignation, American Folk Melody.