Sermon 18 May2014, Round 2: “trust in me.” John 14:1-14

Today is a great day…..it’s a great day because later in our service, we are going to welcome and recognize some folks. They’ve been in our midst pretty regularly for awhile now, and today, they are going to say “yes” to joining our little family we have here – this Body of Christ we call Holy Communion Lutheran church. And some of them couldn’t be here today….but they have also affirmed their desire to be a part of this little family of God, and we’ll do that later this summer. We have new folks joining this little church…..
Now I have a question for you: Does this sound like good news, or does it sound like a threat?
Now maybe you’re thinking that’s a really ridiculous question….of course it’s good news! These people are now part of our community; it’s growing….the love and grace of God, we now share it with new people, young and old, of all sorts of backgrounds. OF COURSE IT’S GOOD NEWS.
Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” No one comes through the Father except through me.”
I’ll ask you the same question: these words of Jesus….does this sound like good news, or does it sound like a threat? This time I’m not so sure. Let’s go back a few verses, when we hear “Father’s house” – what do we think of? Maybe heaven perhaps? Now there’s good news….that house, Heaven, it has many rooms – lots of space available. But, the only way to get a spot there is if you believe Jesus is your savior, if you accept him, because he’s the way – the only way. Put that way, does it still sound like good news? Or is it more like a challenge – we have this great decision to make, or otherwise our eternal souls are in danger. And if we don’t, or don’t do it good enough, the we definitely won’t get in. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a threat. This is how Jesus’ words have been interpreted by some – Christianity is the only way to salvation, so accept Jesus or else. And it creates a sense of fear and trouble in people’s hearts.
I remember during the summer of my Clinical Pastoral Experience, my hospital chaplaincy, I made a visit to an elderly man. The nurses called me up there because the man was in great distress, crying, scared out of his mind. And when I got up there to his room, I found out why: the man’s son would come up every day, and demand his father confess all his sins. He demanded his dad confess he had accepted Jesus into his heart as his lord and savior……because if he didn’t, he was going to hell….and he didn’t have much time. And this man, suffering from some memory loss, would forget whether he had done so or not, and it would throw him into despair. I listened to him and he’d despair – “I don’t know if I’ve confessed all my sins! My son said I’m going to hell if I don’t confess….please Pastor, Am I going to get into heaven?”
But Jesus’ words in the opening part of this passage are: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe in me.” The word belief can also be translated “trust.” “Trust in God; trust in me.” Trust what you know about me, because you now also know God. Trust in the things I have done for you and are about to do – signs of my deep love for you. Because those are signs of God’s deep love for you. Trust in me….that in the things to come, you’ll know that the “Father’s house” isn’t a destination you’re trying to get to, but rather it’s a relationship, a relationship open to all people simply because I love you; God loves you. Trust in that.
Now that’s good news. Not a single word of threat here! And Jesus offers the disciples, and us, more good news today: “The one who believes – who trusts – in me will also do the works that I do…and in fact, will do greater works than these.” In other words, Jesus says: “The love and grace I have shown you – in footwashing, in death, in resurrection – you will actually show each other this same love and grace in greater ways.”
Here’s a thought: If “the Father’s house” is really about a relationship with God, made known in Jesus Christ’s self-giving love, then the more ways and opportunities we have to experience relationships that embody God’s love and grace just makes the “Father’s house bigger.” And in greater ways, God and God’s love is made known even more through us.
What that means, perhaps, is that each and every one of us – those who cling in trust to this promise, this good news of God made known in Jesus Christ – we are “rooms” in the Father’s house. We are dwelling places for the love and grace of Christ, where in the relationships we build and share, in the ways they grow and take shape – Christ is made known, and God and this everlasting promise of abundant life is made known.
And if that’s the case, then today, the house just got bigger. We rejoice because in the “yes” of you who join our little family of God here, Christ’s love and grace, which has been shared by so many in this little family, just grew a bit more, and the presence and action of God just got made known to us more fully. All of you, your talents and gifts, your presence….making God’s house bigger in new relationships.
And here’s one more thought: if the house gets bigger in this way, then they’ll be more rooms…..and the house continues to grow – just was Jesus said, by works greater than these….by the work of nurturing relationships the embody God’s love and grace…..spaces that ease and bring peace to troubled hearts all over. And that, that is good news…..it’s gospel. Amen.

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One response to “Sermon 18 May2014, Round 2: “trust in me.” John 14:1-14

  1. Pingback: This Week’s Links « Timothy Siburg

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